Ivan Sokolov

Bird's Eye

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To really appreciate the weighty, gloomy feeling of Bird's Eye, pianist Ivan Sokolov's 2005 release on Megadisc, it helps to be in an autumnal or wintry frame of mind, and to imagine the bird in question flying to a warmer climate; otherwise, this album may be a bit too chilly and depressing to bear. The melancholy mood is introduced in Prokofiev's somber Pensées, Op. 62, and continued with even grayer tones in Alexander Wustin's fragile Lamento and bleak Three Songs from Toropets. But Sokolov takes the listener into even darker places in his two mysterious compositions, In the Clouds and Evening Birds, and almost reaches a vanishing point in Prokofiev's brief Fugitive Vision, which closes out the album. The central piece, Nikolai Korndorf's static, nearly half-hour-long Yarilo, is the most ambiguous and difficult to describe in terms of mood or feelings, but it may be the album's bright spot, at least in the way pale winter light glints off icicles; still, its tinkling, high treble pitches and hollow-sounding chords are too cold and severe to lend this album any warmth. So if the listener needs some truly bleak music for an evening's existential musings, this wan album may set the ambience quite well. But be well supplied with something upbeat and cheerful to break this CD's oppressive spell, because this is about as somber as piano music gets.

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