Well into the first half of the 20th century, Sergei Bortkiewicz remained an unreconstructed Romantic composer, a product of the influences of Franz Liszt, Frédéric Chopin, and Robert Schumann in his youth, and his long career showed little change in this style. Bortkiewicz's solo piano music offers flashes of technical brilliance, and in some ways it is comparable to the early work of his Russian contemporaries, Sergei Rachmaninov and Alexander Scriabin, though its sentimentality often makes it seem derivative of parlor music of the fin de siècle. For this 2016 Hyperion release, Nadejda Vlaeva performs a mix of short and moderately long pieces, and the Piano Sonata No. 2 in C sharp minor stands out as the most ambitious and accomplished, so listeners coming to Bortkiewicz for the first time might explore this work first, even though it comes at the end of the program. The other selections include several of his character pieces, an arrangement of his España for violin and piano, and a suite on Yugoslavian themes, all charming and easy to digest. Yet because Bortkiewicz's music offers few challenges and is excessively derivative of much greater composers, this album is unlikely to bring about a full-scale revival.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Six Preludes Op. 66|
|Fantasiestücke Op. 61|
|Lyrica nova Op. 59|
|Three Mazurkas Op. 64|
|Jugoslavische Suite Op. 58|
|Piano Sonata No. 2 in C sharp minor Op. 60|