Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mikhail Pletnev Plays Schumann







Mikhail Pletnev is a phenomenal pianist. His technique is truly stunning and as effortless as brushing a feather-duster across the keyboard. His tone is beguilingly beautiful, smooth as silk and velvet; he seems to caress the keys, coaxing from them entire layers of sonorities and an endless variety of colors, nuances and dynamics. Gold Medalist at the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition, his repertoire ranges far and wide; his award-winning recordings include music by Scarlatti, C.P.E. Bach, Grieg, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, and, being a conductor and composer as well, his own works and transcriptions. Musically, he must be one of the most individualistic and original performers before the public. This disc shows that Schumann, the quintessential romantic, has found a kindred spirit,Robert_Schumann but one whose approach is very much his own. Pletnev does not hesitate to bring out changes of mood, dynamics and character with quite drastic shifts of tempo, heralded by big ritardandos and long pauses. Thus, his playing is extraordinarily free, yet simple, leisurely, comfortable and without fuss. And though all the liberties are obviously carefully thought out (and might at times seem a bit excessive), they have an almost improvisatory spontaneity that gives them a feeling of being freshly experienced, as if he were making everything up on the spot. He underlines the contrasts between the variations of the Symphonic Etudes (and replaces a variation of the work's later, standard version with two from the earlier one); the Fantasie is truly fantastic, rhapsodic, heroic, passionate, deeply felt. Of the five rather unfamiliar "Album Leaves" (or Colored Leaves), four are slow and singing, one is a wispy witches' dance, and the Arabesque is all tenderness, ardor and charm. --Edith Eisler
 
ape, covers

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