SERGEI PROKOFIEV - Complete Piano Sonatas

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SERGEI PROKOFIEV - Complete Piano Sonatas - Natalia Trull (Piano) - 3-Disc Set - 3254870168835 - Released: May 2017 - Sorel Classics SCCD007/8/9

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was a towering figure on the musical landscape of Soviet era Russia. Many of his orchestral scores stand as significant landmarks of the 20th century. The ballet score to Romeo and Juliet, Lieutenant KijÚ, Peter and the Wolf, Alexander Nevsky, and of course his Symphony No. 5, in my opinion one of the best symphonic statements of all time. And yet rarely are his Piano Sonatas mentioned, when they should be highly respected in company with the sonatas by Beethoven, Schubert and Scriabin, when you consider that Prokofiev was preoccupied with them throughout his life. It is said that they make maniacal demands on the pianist, requiring discipline, structure and momentum, energy, and fingers of steel.

What I admire most about Russian pianist Natalia Trull's traversal of all 9 sonatas is that not only does she possess the aforementioned technical prerequisites, but she also breathes life into the music. From the highly romantic Rachmaninov/Scriabin sound realm of the No. 1 to the war-machine poundings of No. 7 and back to the highly refined romantic ideals of Nos. 8 and 9, she combines urgency, fantasy, whimsy, and highly fluid rhythmic and dynamic momentum to all. And despite the music sometimes taking on a mechanical demeanour, Trull's flexible tempo alterarions and elastic dynamics let us hear a human heart beating within the machinery. Sviatoslav Richter may have shared a kinship with Prokofiev, but he would at times roll through the music like a tank on gravel. Natalia Trull can certainly exhibit the same dramatic level of intensity when required, but without leaving the needle in the red at all times.

I'm not sure why this recording is being released now on the Sorel Classics label. The recording actually took place 20 years ago in 1997. Was it on the market prior to now but only in a limited capacity or only available in Russia? Who ever is responsible for this belated release should also be applauded. Anyone interested in the music of Prokofiev, the cultural impact of the Soviet era, or highly charged piano music, should acquire this recording.

Jean-Yves Duperron - June 2017