Music history buffs can hardly see the name Solzhenitsyn without first thinking of revolutionary Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, with whom cellist Mstislav Rostropovich was so close. The focus of this album, however, is Aleskandr's son, Ignat, who has proven himself to be an artist of an equally high caliber. Solzhenitsyn has chosen for his first CD a program of Brahms solo piano music; more specifically, he has programmed selections from the antipodes of Brahms' extensive catalog of solo piano works. The opening Op. 4 Scherzo in E flat minor is a great way to capture a listener's attention with its dramatic, rich Brahmsian texture that comes to mind most often when thinking of Brahms. The mood and temperament change dramatically in the Op. 9 Variations of a Theme of Robert Schumann in F sharp minor, perhaps one of the master's least-frequently performed variation sets; here, the contemplative, serene introspection belies the Brahms' young age at the time. Solzhenitsyn visits the Four Ballades, Op. 10, before concluding with the reflective, ruminant Op. 118 Six Piano Pieces. Throughout the album, Solzhenitsyn's ability to change characters and textures is striking. His command of voicing allows melodies obscured in the middle voices to come to the forefront while keeping accompanimental figures distinctly audible. Careful, unhurried pacing; a broad dynamic palate; and tasteful use of rubato all distinguish Solzhenitsyn's splendid interpretation of Brahms.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Variations on a Theme of Schumann, for piano in F sharp minor, Op. 9|
|Ballades (4) for piano, Op. 10|
|Pieces (6) for piano, Op. 118|