Notes and Editorial Reviews
Alexei Lubimov (fp)
ZIG-ZAG TERRITORIES 100102 (64:22)
Alexei Lubimov, one of the last pupils of the great Heinrich Neuhaus, has had a most interesting career. He was an early champion of avant-garde music, playing the Moscow premieres of works by John Cage and Terry Riley in 1968. For this he was “punished” by the Russian regime and prohibited from foreign travel. For a while he toured Russia with the Moscow
Baroque Quartet. Then in the early 1990s he made a famous Erato recording of the complete Mozart piano sonatas played on a fortepiano built by Christopher Clarke. Currently he is a professor at the Moscow Conservatory and performs around the world, pursuing his twin interests of modern and period music.
For op. 90, Lubimov plays a fortepiano built in 1810 by Matthias Müller, which was discovered in an attic and rebuilt in the Netherlands by Edwin Beunk. The instrument has three pedals and is capable of a surprisingly full sound (as in the fortissimos in the first two pieces) as well as a pure and silvery tone (shown to advantage especially in the last two). For op. 142, he uses a larger and warmer instrument made in 1830 by Joseph Schantz. It permits more colorism than the Müller piano and is ideally suited to the bigger scope of the op. 142 pieces, especially the variations of No. 3 and the flashy writing in No. 4. Throughout, Lubimov lets the music and the instruments speak for themselves, with tempos that are straightforward but characterful and rubato that is vocally inspired and never artificially applied. These are mainstream performances that rank with the very fine fortepiano recording by Jan Vermeulen (on Et’Cetera) and the stunning modern piano one by Krystian Zimerman (for Deutsche Grammophon). Lubimov’s next recording, of Beethoven’s last three sonatas played on a fortepiano by Alois Graf, was made during the same recording sessions as this one. It is eagerly anticipated.
FANFARE: Charles Timbrell
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