Anne-Marie McDermott

Prokofiev: The Sonatas for Piano

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Listeners who appreciate the piano's percussive capabilities -- a series of carefully calibrated wooden hammers striking precisely tuned metal strings -- are likely to enjoy the piano sonatas of Prokofiev. In this three-disc set of all nine sonatas, Anne-Marie McDermott creates incredibly exciting and driving performances, treating her instruments, a Yamaha and a Steinway, as percussion instruments. With her crisp attack, clean articulation, muscular technique, inclination toward brisk tempos, and disinclination to overuse the sustain pedal, McDermott emphasizes the piano's machine-like qualities. This doesn't mean she can't let the music sing when it's appropriate; with subtle legato and blended balances, her Ninth Sonata's Andante tranquillo is wonderfully lyrical. It does mean, though, that McDermott knows how to rock. In the Second and Eighth sonatas' concluding Vivaces, in the Fourth's closing Allegro con brio, ma non leggiere, and especially the Seventh's final Precipitato, McDermott's performances rock as hard as Metallica. The set includes a witty take on the composer's Five Sarcasms. Captured in atmospheric sound, these performances leave the listener intrigued to hear what McDermott would do with Prokofiev's five piano concertos.

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