plays Stravinsky -
What a thrill to encounter Elena Kuschnerova -- a too little-known pianist whose recorded Stravinsky reveals formidable technique, an enthralling tonal palette, striking individuality and truly penetrating musical intelligence.
I first learned of Mme Kuschnerova via friends in faraway Russia and now the anticipation at finally hearing her in performance has been rewarded beyond my highest expectations.
Indeed I was close to whooping for joy at hearing these perfectly-crafted piano works (most of them seldom heard), played with Kuschnerova's vital blend of clarity, verve and true perception.
For unaccountable reasons Stravinsky's keyboard gems rarely turn up in modern recitals, the majority of which are still dominated by the romantic and Viennese 'classics'.
Today, when 20th/21st century piano music is publicly performed, one appears more likely to hear works of Ives, Tippett, Glass, Shostakovich, Nancarrow, Messiaen, Schnittke, Crumb, Ireland, Adams, or Cage et al -- than of Stravinsky.
As always, however, there are exceptions -- many pianists are drawn to recording Trois mouvements de Pétruschka (1921) and, true to form, Naxos has released the complete Stravinsky keyboard oeuvre with British pianist, Messiaen authority and Sheffield University professor, Peter Hill.
Mme Kuschnerova already has eight CDs (recorded by SWR Baden-Baden, Bavarian Radio (München), Steinway, Japan etc); recitals in Moscow and Tokyo and releases spotlighting music of Prokofiev, Scriabin, Bach, Mussorgsky, Stravinsky and Brahms.
Copyright © 7 October 2007
Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand