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Rachmaninov, Taneyev, Liadov, Balakirev / Olga Kern


Release Date: 05/10/2005 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 907399   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Sergei RachmaninovMily BalakirevAnatole LiadovSergei Taneyev
Performer:  Olga Kern
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A splendid programme from a prize-winning pianist

This enchanting recital suggests a young pianist who, free from hothouse competition pressure (she won first prizes in Italy’s 1999 Pinerolo and America’s 2001 Van Cliburn arenas), has blossomed into an artist of rare musical grace and fluency. Olga Kern brings a personal and improvisatory style to Rachmaninov’s once neglected, now ubiquitous, Second Sonata and, despite her inborn virtuosity, she never sacrifices poetry to obvious display. Indeed, her performance is sufficiently sensitive and exploratory as well as brilliant to almost convince me that Rachmaninov’s drastic 1931 revision – where the sequences inseparable from his style are brutally truncated – is a
Read more viable alternative to his 1913 original. Both here and in the early Morceaux de fantaisie textures are kept light and scintillating, rhythms buoyant and enlivening. What charm and ease of manner in the 1940 revision of the Serenade, what teasing style and piquancy in the Polka (even Godowsky was daunted by its intricacy).

She makes light of Taneyev’s fearsome fugue in his Op 29 and throughout this entire recital you never sense a pianist studio-bound but rather someone who, enviably liberated, relishes everything she offers. Liadov’s and Balakirev’s gentler romantic musings are as convincing as the latter’s Islamey which is both fastidiously written as well as the ultimate white-knuckle ride for the pianist. You may remain puzzled by Kern’s inconsistent pauses at the end of phrases in Islamey but such idiosyncrasy seems marginal when set beside her effortless command, colour and character. Described as ‘brilliant, glassy, supremely aggressive and dazzlingly virtuosic in the Horowitz manner’ (The Washington Post) Kern remains ‘brilliant’ but also fine-toned and true to her own lights. Sheer talent does not come more transparently and, to top it all, Harmonia Mundi’s sound is of demonstration refinement and quality.

-- Bryce Morrison, Gramophone, 5/2005
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for Piano no 2 in B flat minor, Op. 36 by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Olga Kern (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913/1931; Russia 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound Studios, Nicasio, CA 
Length: 21 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Notes: Version: 1931
Skywalker Sound Studios, Nicasio, CA (07/17/2004 - 07/20/2004)
Composition written: Russia (1913).
Composition revised: Russia (1931). 
2.
Morceaux de fantaisies (5), Op. 3 by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Olga Kern (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Russia 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound Studios, Nicasio, CA 
Length: 22 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Notes: Version: 1940
Skywalker Sound Studios, Nicasio, CA (07/17/2004 - 07/20/2004) 
3.
Lachtäubchen (Behr) "Polka de W.R." by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Olga Kern (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1911 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound Studios, Nicasio, CA 
Length: 4 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Notes: Skywalker Sound Studios, Nicasio, CA (07/17/2004 - 07/20/2004) 
4.
Oriental Fantasy for Piano, Op. 18 "Islamey" by Mily Balakirev
Performer:  Olga Kern (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869/1902; Russia 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound Studios, Nicasio, CA 
Length: 9 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Notes: Skywalker Sound Studios, Nicasio, CA (07/17/2004 - 07/20/2004) 
5.
Au jardin by Mily Balakirev
Performer:  Olga Kern (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884; Russia 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound Studios, Nicasio, CA 
Length: 4 Minutes 43 Secs. 
Notes: Skywalker Sound Studios, Nicasio, CA (07/17/2004 - 07/20/2004) 
6.
Pieces (3) for Piano, Op. 57: no 1, Prelude in D flat major by Anatole Liadov
Performer:  Olga Kern (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1900-1905; Russia 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound Studios, Nicasio, CA 
Length: 2 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Notes: Skywalker Sound Studios, Nicasio, CA (07/17/2004 - 07/20/2004) 
7.
Musical snuffbox, Op. 32 by Anatole Liadov
Performer:  Olga Kern (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1893; Russia 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound Studios, Nicasio, CA 
Length: 2 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Notes: Skywalker Sound Studios, Nicasio, CA (07/17/2004 - 07/20/2004) 
8.
Prelude and Fugue in G sharp minor, Op. 29 by Sergei Taneyev
Performer:  Olga Kern (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1910; Russia 
Venue:  Skywalker Sound Studios, Nicasio, CA 
Length: 7 Minutes 44 Secs. 
Notes: Skywalker Sound Studios, Nicasio, CA (07/17/2004 - 07/20/2004) 

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