Evgeni Koroliov

Prokofiev: Piano Sonatas Nos. 2, 4 & 7

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Evgeni Koroliov recorded Sergey Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 2 in D minor, the Piano Sonata No. 4 in C minor, and the Piano Sonata No. 7 in B flat major between 2002 and 2003 for German release, though this 2013 reissue finds a wider international audience, thanks to Sony's distribution. In these incisive performances. Koroliov explores three distinct phases of Prokofiev's output: the retrospective, almost nostalgic, attitude of the earliest sonatas, drawn from his youthful sketches; a more polished, sophisticated style in evidence in the middle sonatas; and the maturity of the "War Sonatas," which dated from WWII. Prokofiev's rhetoric seems always to have incorporated a sardonic or detached perspective, and this attitude is reflected in Koroliov's bitingly percussive playing, though it is overemphasized at the expense of Prokofiev's humor and playfulness. The shallow "recital hall" sound of the recording also gives a brittle quality to the piano, so the sonatas sound unnecessarily cold and metallic in the loudest passages, and a bit distant and hazy in the softer passages. Closer microphone placement would have given the music some much needed warmth and resonance.

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