Alexandre Kantorow

À la Russe

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AllMusic Review by James Manheim

All kinds of hype have attended the rise of French pianist Alexandre Kantorow (son of violinist-conductor Jean-Jacques Kantorow), not yet 21 when this album was recorded in 2016 and released the following year, with one critic going so far as to call him Liszt reincarnated. One of the less splashy, but more significant developments was his signing at 17 to Sweden's BIS, not a label given to phenomena of the moment. The label does Kantorow proud with the wide dynamic range of its production at the absurdly named 4'33'' Studio in suburban Paris. You get warhorses here, with the Guido Agosti transcription of three pieces from Stravinsky's The Firebird the only pieces that could be considered remotely unusual. And you get an idea of how these pieces became warhorses in the first place. Sample the final Islamey, Op. 18, of Balakirev, of which Ravel said that his goal in composing Gaspard de la Nuit was to exceed it in difficulty. Perhaps he did, but Kantorow gets the feeling of the work's being at the edge of playability without losing its roots in the folk music of Central Asia. The Rachmaninov Piano Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op. 28, has breadth and power, and the two Tchaikovsky pieces from 18 Morceax, Op. 72, breathe and rock. It would appear from this recital of Russian music that Kantorow is doing just fine apart from the baton of his famous father, and that he is indeed one to watch.

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