NICOLAS BACRI (b.1961): Piano Sonatas No. 2, Op. 105 and No. 3, Op. 122 “Sonata impetuosa”, Fantaisie, Op. 134, NIKOLAI MYASKOVSKY (1881-1950): Piano Sonatas No. 2 in F Sharp Minor, Op. 13 and No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 19, 6 Excentricities, Op. 25.

Catalogue Number: 03W069

Label: Ars Produktion

Reference: ARS 38 313

Format: SACD hybrid

Price: $18.98

Description: Kindred spirits, separated by a century, Myaskovsky and Bacri turn out to be natural companions in this recital. In the first two decades of the 20th century, in the troubled times around the Russian revolution, Myaskovsky was exploring the same kind of highly expressive, forward-looking romanticism-based modernism as Feinberg and Catoire, two giants still undergoing a long overdue rediscovery. Like those towering figures, until recently shrouded in the mists of neglect, he is still oddly underappreciated. The degree to which Bacri's idiom, especially in these piano works, sounds like an organic evolution of Myaskovsky's, is little short of astonishing; much of the tenebrous, tormented Fantaisie could almost be by the Russian composer. Myaskovsky's 2nd Sonata is related to Rachmaninov and the early Scriabin, but its tempestuous, turbulent nature marks it as a commentary on its time, and its obsessive use of the Dies irae casts a foreboding gloom over the entire work. The 3rd is less straightforwardly tonal, the composer moving in the direction that Feinberg was taking in his works leading up to the 1930s. The sonata is more emotionally complex than the 2nd, haunted and dark, given to paroxysms of protesting fury. The "Eccentricities" are brief character pieces, very tonal and reminiscent of his illustrious student Kabalevsky's 24 Preludes. Bacri takes his harmonies further from functional tonality, though not invariably and stopping well short of atonality, but the bleak tolling bells of the first part of his 2nd Sonata belong to a similar world of heightened expressionism that Myaskovsky was embroiled in. A belligerent, furious scherzo follows, then a chill, emotionally detached trio, which acts as the sonata's slow movement. The return of the scherzo is even more bellicose than before, reaching a pounding climax and giving way to an angular, angry fugue which is itself assailed by a battery of ostinato figuration. The melancholy mood of the slow movement returns, before a reprise of the fugue hurls the music to a close. Bacri dedicated his 3rd Sonata to the memory of Myaskovsky, and its restless, stormy opening strongly recalls the motif that pervades the older composer's own 3rd Sonata. A sad, suspended "slow movement" follows, heavy of heart and numbed by tragedy. A somber fugue tries to take root, but is overwhelmed by the surging tides of the opening, and an anguished coda storms toward a sudden, ambiguous ending. Sabine Weyer (piano).

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