Stravinsky: Piano Music - Sonatas, Serenade, Etudes & Dances / Sangiorgio
Includes work(s) for piano by Igor Stravinsky, ranging from modernist takes on "light" dance genres such as ragtime, polka, and tango to the youthful late Romanticism of the Sonata in F-sharp. Soloist: Victor Sangiorgio, an in-demand soloist and one of Australia's leading luminaries of the piano.
Victor Sangiorgio is an Italian-born pianist who grew up in the Australian city of Perth...He has since lived and worked at various times in the U.S. and England: there, in 1991, he set down this program of Stravinsky’s solo piano music. The disc originally appeared on the Collins Classics label in 1993, and I have been enjoying it ever since. It is probably the best overview of this repertoire you can find at the moment, certainly at Naxos’s low price.
Sangiorgio plays with a freedom that belies the unpianistic complexities of some of these pieces, notably the tricky cross rhythms in the second of the Four Etudes of 1908. Although Stravinsky himself was a pianist, and wrote the majority of these works for himself to play, he obviously had a personal and quirky keyboard technique.
Most of Stravinsky’s solo piano output dates from early in his career. The F♯-Minor Sonata of 1903–04 is a student work, written or at least completed under the guidance of the composer’s mentor Rimsky-Korsakov (at the latter’s summer residence in Lzy). It is a fully fledged, late-Romantic, four-movement work, echoing Tchaikovsky and formally harkening back to Beethoven. The young Stravinsky was manifestly uncomfortable with the heroics demanded by the first and last movements; it shows us a glimpse of his later self only in the middle movements: the Scherzo and Andante. The former is cheeky, while the latter hints at the Russian melancholy that comes to the fore in The Firebird and often colors parts of the master’s later works. Sangiorgio doesn’t belabor the piece...but makes the best of it through clarity and lightness.
Those attributes pay dividends in the two most substantial works on the disc: the Sonata of 1924 and the Serenade of 1925. These opuses, written around the same time as the Concerto for Piano and Winds and the Capriccio, show Stravinsky bringing to Classical period structures his own astringent harmonies and unevenly stressed rhythms. Stravinsky’s music from this era can sound dry, but Sangiorgio finds a playfulness; a tongue-in-cheek quality that somehow expresses the composer’s sly enjoyment of his own handiwork.
...as an overall recommendation this Naxos reissue is the [recording of this repertoire] to go for. Sound is appropriately clean, close, and warm.
-- MusicWeb International
Release Date: January 29, 2008
Catalog Number: 8570377
Period: 20th Century
Composer: Igor Stravinsky
Performer: Victor Sangiorgio