Prokofiev: Piano Sonatas 1-5 / Alexandra Silocea

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PROKOFIEV Piano Sonatas: Nos. 1–5 Alexandra Silocea (pn) AVIE 2183 (65:16)

As with Beethoven, one can with the revisions he made to the Fifth Sonata follow Prokofiev’s development almost from the beginning of his career to the end of it. Though a handful of the nine sonatas became popular with audiences and performers right from the beginning, others fell into the cracks of history shortly after their inception. Many of these sonatas became popular not only with Soviet pianists of the era, but musicians worldwide—Richter, Gilels, Horowitz, Gould, Cliburn, Argerich, François, to name just a few. In choosing to record the complete sonatas for her debut recording (of which the present release is just the first volume), Alexandra Silocea pits herself against some of the greatest pianists of the last century. Even in considering just the lesser-known sonatas, she has stiff competition from both Frederic Chiu and Anne-Marie McDermott, who have both recorded excellent complete cycles of these works. So the question remains, how does this young pianist, now in her mid-20s, fare? Remarkably well, actually. She possesses both the maturity to handle the subtleties of this music along with the requisite mechanical skill to handle the technical hurdles that Prokofiev throws at the pianist. She might not have the kind of fiery temperament that Gilels and Weissenberg bring to the Third Sonata’s climaxes, but the assured way she handles the dramatic alternation from the percussive opening to the more lyrical semplice e dolce theme is masterly. Her quirky way with the Second Sonata’s scherzo movement can stand at the top of the list for great performances, while her romantic yet never over-sentimentalized way with the First Sonata’s obvious debt to Rachmaninoff imbues the movement with a sound all of its own—one that Prokofiev was soon to abandon. Will this perhaps lead to the First Sonata being performed more in public? One can only hope so. Her ghostly, almost pale sound is equally perfect for the Più mosso section of the Second Sonata’s first movement. Silocea may possess a thin sound in general, but she has a beautiful one in regards to her melodic line, and has the ability to maintain a long line over a large span of time. Her crescendos and diminuendos always lend the pieces a feeling of momentum, which is especially important in these often forward-propelled movements. How will Silocea fare in the later sonatas? Only time will tell. But if she can manage to bring the same technical assuredness and musical sensibilities to these works, then we could be looking at not only an auspicious debut, but a very fine overall cycle of Prokofiev’s sonatas. I for one am looking forward to the second installment—in other words, highly recommended.

FANFARE: Scott Noriega

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: AV2183

  • UPC: 822252218329

  • Label: Avie

  • Composer: Sergei Prokofiev

  • Performer: Alexandra Silocea