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Reviews

INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW

Vassily Primakov | Chopin | Sonatas, Ballades, Scherzos

“Having followed Primakov’s career for years now, one of the things which most impresses me is the extraordinary growth musically, pianistically and, one has to feel, humanly – evidenced in each successive recording.

For many of us who grew up around pianos, Chopin is a fact of life, imbibed almost from the cradle.  Surely I am not alone in saying there are certain Chopin pieces I cannot remember not knowing.  What a joy it is – and how humbling – to encounter an artist like Primakov, who, through some special alchemy of hands, mind and heart, can show us a fresh, revived, inexhaustible Chopin.

~ Patrick Rucker


MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Vassily Primakov / Live in Concert / Medtner, Schumann, Brahms & Ravel

Vassily Primakov Live in Concert Medtner Schumann Brahms Ravel“Among the things I admire about Vassily Primakov is his supple and sensitive touch. Another is his thoughtful attention to the music. He seems always to understand the intention of the composer, the purpose behind each note, and he projects that purpose to the listener. His performance is never centered on the pianist – it’s always about the music.

It is not easy these days for a musician to create his own unique “signature” without resorting to idiosyncrasy and eccentricity. Vassily Primakov definitely has a singular “face”.  To date I have enjoyed every one of his discs, but if I want to advertise this pianist to a friend, the chances are high that it will be this one. The four works were recorded over several concerts, yet they fit very well together. They all come from the period of high and late Romanticism, which plays to the strengths of a pianist whose métier lies in this field. The disc is well recorded; the piano sound is rich and caught directly, yet not too close, with the feeling of spacious freedom… There are no distractions from the audience; only the applause reminds us that these were actually live recordings.  From misty-eyed Medtner, through bipolar Schumann and jovial Brahms to the wild abandon of Ravel, this is a spectacular and thrilling journey.”  Full Article

~ Oleg Ledeniov


FANFARE MAGAZINE

Vassily Primakov | Chopin | Sonatas, Ballades, Scherzos

“Primakov has mastered his instrument so thoroughly and completely that he can do pretty much anything he wants at the keyboard.  What is more, his staggering virtuosity never comes across as empty or showy, but is deployed to advance an artistic message that is always carefully thought through and compelling.

There can be little doubt that Primakov has Chopin’s music engrained in his DNA.”

~ Radu A Lelutiu

Full Article is featured in the July/August 2013 Issue of Fanfare Magazine


MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Jerome Lowenthal / 80th Birthday Celebration / Opera Paraphrases

JLo-80th-Liszt-CD-Cover“To mark pianist Jerome Lowenthal’s 80th birthday, LP Classics has restored his c.1981 RCA recording of Liszt opera paraphrases. Busoni’s Chamber Fantasy on Carmen makes for an appropriate disc-mate. This is no act of piety, as its reappearance makes abundantly clear what a colossal technician and colourist Lowenthal was. Thirty years, as with all the best recordings, have scarcely dimmed the brimstone, wit and digital brilliance enshrined within.

Seldom will one hear such legerdemain as one finds in the Rigoletto Quartet paraphrase, but this co-exists with a supple lyricism that seduces, alongside the bravado that conquers. The secret – one of the secrets – of Lowenthal’s success is his ability to play off-song with bravura. The envoi sees the sparks a-flying. Darker voicings are to be heard in the Aida paraphrase whilst in Il Trovatore, one witnesses a dizzying control of balanced voicings and colours, an explosive theatre in which vocalised ferment is always evident. His Simon Boccanegra paraphrase possesses great legato refinement amidst the drama; well balanced chording, apposite pedalling, a performance of all-round excellence that never courts nonchalance. The precision and prowess of his Wagner Flying Dutchman extract, a paraphrase of the Spinning Song, is accomplished via outstanding articulation.

No less accomplished is the Busoni piece, often called his Sonatina No.6. Whether you prefer Sonatina or Chamber Fantasy, the result, in Lowenthal’s hands, is an Egon Petri-like ability to get to the heart of things. Vitality and verve are inter-connected with a chiselled sense of the music’s sense of direction. At all times, his panache is allied, as it most definitely is in the Verdi and Wagner paraphrases, with a sense of where the music is going. Bravura without structural surety soon becomes wearying. Fortunately, Lowenthal possesses both qualities.”

~Jonathan Woolf


MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Vera Gornostaeva / Vol. I / Chopin Recital

“More then with a pianist, I’d compare Gornostaeva with the sort of singer who, once you’re hooked on their voice, you just can’t turn a deaf ear, whatever they sing.  The abiding impression is of a great richness of spirit.

I’m left in no doubt that this is a pianist we should all discover.  In times of conformity, eccentricity, personality cults, technical exhibitionism and heaven knows what else, Gornostaeva offers a free-soaring spirit and a dedication to musical values that shine like a beacon.”

~ Christopher Howell


FANFARE MAGAZINE

Vassily Primakov | Chopin | Sonatas, Ballades, Scherzos

“Starting with the imaginative rubato and dynamic shading in the opening of the First Sonata, these interpretively adventurous performances are, measure by measure, consistently kaleidoscopic and full of surprises…

What lingers most in your memory is not the music’s outward drama but its inner glow, heightened by Primakov’s ability to float a melody (and to savor its peaks), his fabulously downy decoration, his ability to draw out the music’s harmonic nuances, and – most striking of all – his daring flexibility of tempo…

In sum, a departure from today’s mainstream – but a distinguished one, consistently exploratory, without a moment of inattention.  The engineering is excellent, as on the other LP Classics discs I’ve heard.  Strongly recommended.”

~ Peter J. Rabinowitz

Full Article is featured in the July/August 2013 Issue of Fanfare Magazine


FANFARE MAGAZINE

Vassily Primakov | Chopin | Sonatas, Ballades, Scherzos

“Primakov’s Chopin offers the listener plenty of panache, but the pianist doesn’t make a gratuitous display of it.  His is a serious Chopin, deeply reflective in quiet moments, but with more then adequate digital dexterity and dynamic force where called for.  His fingerwork is confident and his dynamics wide-ranging.  But through it all, one senses that this is Chopin respected as much for his intellect as for his heart and soul.

Of everything I’ve heard by Primakov up to this point, which has been quite a bit, actually, I can honestly say this is his best work yet.  The recorded sound from this label is nothing short of spectacular and you can purchase this two-disc set for the price of a single-disc album.  This is very strongly recommended for some of the best Chopin…”

~ Jerry Dubins

Full Article is featured in the July/August 2013 Issue of Fanfare Magazine


FANFARE MAGAZINE

Vassily Primakov | Chopin | Sonatas, Ballades, Scherzos

“Vassily Primakov is one of the most appealing pianists before the public today.  He possesses plenty of technique… Primakov, however, also is a wonderful colorist, with the ability to make the piano sing and shimmer.  Most importantly, he has spirit.  His interpretations are filled with a lust for living along with a never cloying reverence for artistic endeavor.  This is Chopin totally alive to the moment, with the feeling that structure and emotion can change at any second.

Rather then group these works by category, Primakov performs them in order by opus number, which proves highly effective.  His rendition of the rarely heard First Sonata is the best I’ve ever heard, full of charm and elan. In the First Ballade, Primakov achieves the perfection of form and power of utterance of a Shakespeare sonnet. His “Funeral March” Sonata is … brimming with intelligence.  He gives the opening movement an elasticity of phrasing that fills it with youthful wonder and pathos.  The next movement has an agitation and restlessness that prefigure the mortality of the funeral march.  Primakov so completely realized the concluding Presto that it feels like the only possible ending to the sonata.  Primakov shapes the Second Ballade like the plot of a gothic novel.  His Third Scherzo is Lisztian in its virtuosity, color, and emotional breadth.  The Third Ballade has the serenety and clarity of a Raphael Madonna and Child, even in its turbulent moments.  Primakov’s Fourth Ballade is visionary interpretation, filled with subtlety and depth…

Vassily Primakov’s album should appeal to all Chopin enthusiasts with a sense of adventure.  This is Chopin with a big personality yet great empathy for the composer’s ethos.  Primakov’s performances represent a wonderful tonic to a world of cookie-cutter Chopin.  It takes bravery and intelligence to play Chopin this way.”

~ Dave Saemann

Full Article is featured in the July/August 2013 Issue of Fanfare Magazine


FANFARE MAGAZINE

Vera Gornostaeva | Vol. II | Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff

“There is simply no telling how many musical treasures are collecting dust in various radio archives and similar institutions waiting to be unearthed.  I know how rewarding unearthing a gem can be, as I’ve had a few occasions to come across something really musically valuable during the course of my decades as a record dealer.  The present recital by Russian pianist Vera Gornostaeva must rand among the significant discoveries of such desiderata in the past decade.

This is playing of the first order by an artist of unquestionable major stature.  Gornostaeva’s reading of Pictures sits squarely in the grand tradition of Russian and Soviet performers of the era.  She convincingly sets each of the pictures within the framework of the whole, so that one hears the piece as an entity, and not a series of separate smaller works.  This is a near flawlessly executed live performance of the Mussorgsky masterpiece.

Rachmaninoff’s preludes fare equally well.   Gornostaeva exhibits beautiful singing lines (Op.23/1), a Richter-like virtuosity (Op. 23/7), and a radience that evoked for me a mental image of the sun breaking through the clouds on a bleak November day (Op. 23/10).

This is a recital simply not to be missed by pianophiles and others who want a stunning example of the Russian school of playing during its golden era.”

~ David DeBoor Canfield


MUSICAL POINTERS

Vassily Primakov | Chopin | Sonatas, Ballades, Scherzos

“Vassily Primakov’s double CD; sensible sequencing ensuring variety – inclusion of the lesser known first sonata encouraged a new listen to over-recorded repertoire.  Sampling through the two discs has proved a pleasure at every moment; playing of a naturalness that doesn’t sound as if it is subject to recording team scrutiny and control with bar by bar splicing.

Confidently recommended and deserving space on your Chopin shelf.”

~ Peter Grahame Woolf


SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER

Jerome Lowenthal / 80th Birthday Celebration / Opera Paraphrases

JLo-80th-Liszt-CD-Cover“Lowenthal’s sound world is an expanse of pianistic color and auditory structure; his phrasing is articulated with utmost precision and musicality that is the envy of any student of music.  Beginning with Verdi’s Rigoletto, the disc comprises of Franz Liszt’s operatic transcriptions, where familiar themes are retold with freshness, revealing a golden tone that is the product of an almost-lost understanding of the instrument.  Also featured is Lowenthal’s recording of the Bizet-Busoni Carmen Variations, which unveiled concentration for beautiful chord-playing and the singing line.  Amidst the familiar rhythms and melodies is a rare atmosphere for the world’s most beloved opera.  The recording is an invaluable musical document.

~ Elijah Ho


SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER

Vera Gornostaeva / Vol. I / Chopin Recital

“Gornostaeva, a pupil of Heinrick Neuhaus, has enjoyed special honors and a career in her home country, but few outside the walls of music conservatories know of her artistry.  Her performance of Chopin’s Fantasy Op. 49 reveals a natural breathing to the phrasing, powerful in statement and elegant in its finish.  Hers is not the steely or over-polished style.  The Polonaise Op. 26 No. 1 finds a rare poetry and singing line that is musically convincing, a pleasure to listen to.”

~ Elijah Ho

 


 SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER

ARENSKY Suites for Two Pianos

Arensky LP1001“Arensky’s piano works are seldom performed, often lacking in conviction.  But here the duo’s performances are heartfelt, close to the score and played with vigor.  This listener was taken by the grandeur of expression in Le Reveur, the fourth movement of Suite No. 2. Primakov’s performances are notable for his concentration, the clarity of colors and textures brought forth by his fastidious workmanship. The expression of intimate lyricism and spinning gorgeous melodies in Suite No. 1 (Op. 15) were tenderly captivating, performed with warmth of color and love of the music.” Full Article

~ Elijah Ho


FANFARE MAGAZINE

Vera Gornostaeva | Vol. II | Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff

“These selections from a 1959 recital, show Gornostaeva to be an imaginative musician who is more likely to seduce you with her delicacy or surprise you with her unexpected nuances then to knock you out with sheer firepower.  She’s got an enviable control of rhythms, but she seems more interested in highlighting delightful rhythmic quirks than in exulting in sheer drive.  Not that she lets us down in the more bravura passages: Her “Baba-Yaga” is stern and unyielding, the tough-minded account of the Moment Musical, Op. 16/4, pushes ahead inexorably, and the snap of her left hand gives Rachmaninoff’s Op. 32/8 tremendous vigor.  Still, what really stands out here are her less aggressive qualities: her superb shading at the quiet end of the spectrum, her subtle control of textures, her elegant rubato. Listen to the extreme delicacy of the Promenade after “Bydlo” in Pictures, the gossamer wit of the “Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks,” the superb dying away at the end of Rachmaninoff’s Op. 3/2, the sensitive voicing in Op. 23/1.  She is not afraid to throw you off balance, either, although it’s less likely to be with a jolt of adrenalin than with an extreme tempo stretch or, more often still, an unexpected drawing back.  It’s appropriate that the recital ends with the “Dance of the Girls with Lilies” from Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet, played with a captivating delicacy.

The restoration is expert (you’d never guess this was a live recording from the Soviet Union in 1959), too.  Strongest recommendation.”

~ Peter J. Rabinowitz


 AUDIO VIDEO CLUB OF ATLANTA

Jerome Lowenthal / 80th Birthday Celebration / Opera Paraphrases

JLo-80th-Liszt-CD-CoverIn a special 80th birthday celebration of Jerome Lowenthal, LP Classics has wisely chosen to present the distinguished American pianist and teacher feasting on viands that are his kind of meat: virtuoso paraphrases by Franz Liszt of themes from operas by Verdi and Wagner, plus Ferrucio Busoni’s Chamber Fantasy on Bizet’s Carmen.  Where others fear to treat, in repertoire sometimes considered unplayable, Lowenthal steps up boldly like the true Lisztian he is.  The result, is music making of an exalted nature.

Besides the technical skills needed to realize the Lisztian paraphrases, Lowenthal possesses the dramatic insight into the heart of music and the sense of proportion, and even humor.

Happily, the booklet that accompanies this CD is light on annotation and rich in rare photographs from the life and career of Jerome Lowenthal.  They show Lowenthal in formal and informal photos with great conductors the likes of Monteaux, Stokowski, Abravanel, Steinberg, Mahta and Comissiona, and fellow artists, beside intimate portraits of the artist out of the spotlight with his late wife and his two daughters.  As often happens, the pictures say more then words.

Full Article is featured in the May 2012 issue of Dr. Phil’s Classical Reviews


MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

ARENSKY Suites for Two Pianos

Arensky LP1001“Lavrova and Primakov play with brilliance and depth.  They have excellent unity and do not hesitate to go with full power.  There are no “favorite parts” and “fillers”: each track is treated with affection and presented in the best light.  The booklet contains an engaging musical analysis of the works.  The recording is rich and clear; the engineering preserved the fullness of the sound very well.  The voices of the two CFX pianos are beautiful – not too light and not too heavy.

…I think that this is a very successful inaugural record, and I will wait for more releases from this label.  I especially hope that the two pianists will continue to explore the rich world of Romantic two-piano and four-hands literature.  Together, they really have everything, technically and emotionally, to bring this music out.” Full Article

~ Oleg Ledeniov


FANFARE MAGAZINE

Jerome Lowenthal / 80th Birthday Celebration / Opera Paraphrases

JLo-80th-Liszt-CD-Cover““Though rare,” wrote Adrian Corleonis a bit more than a year ago, “Lowenthal’s recorded performances are always distinguished, estimable, and different.”  He had especially good things to say about a long-out-of-print LP devoted to Liszt operatic paraphrases, which he sees as “magnificent” despite their “distressingly poor sound.”  Doubly good news here: These recordings are back, in fresh-sounding restorations.

The performances will leave you dazzled.  There’s plenty of power where needed, and plenty of knife-edged precision, too but more often than not, Lowenthal creates his effects through deftness and ear-tingling timbral play rather than sheer muscle. Try, for instance, the lightness of the ppp velocissimo toward the end of the introduction to the Rigoletto Paraphrase—a lightness that makes even the performance by so fine a pianist as Emanuel Ax seem slightly matter-of-fact. Or listen to the miraculous shifts in tone of voice at the very beginning of that paraphrase—or the swing from snappish rhythms and glorious bel canto legato in the Reminiscences de Boccanegra—or the sultry mystery at the start of the Aida paraphrase. Balances are exceptional, too, so that no matter how ornate the decoration, the music never sounds busy, much less cluttered.  This is, quite simply, Liszt playing of the highest caliber.

The Busoni Carmen Fantasy, recorded in 1994, is, if anything, even more effective. The performance is shaped with rhetorical acuity and for all the sprinkling of virtuoso high spirits, the reading manages to navigate that whimsicality without losing the deep poignance that lies at the core of both the opera and the paraphrase (the ending is haunting). What’s most striking, though, is the way Lowenthal catches the play of the voices of the two very different composers who are conversing here.  Highly recommended.”

~ Peter J. Rabinowitz

Full Article is featured in the May/June 2012 Issue of Fanfare Magazine


FANFARE MAGAZINE

Jerome Lowenthal / 80th Birthday Celebration / Opera Paraphrases

JLo-80th-Liszt-CD-Cover“This disc is tremendous fun to listen to.  Jerome Lowenthal, a pupil of Samaroff, Kapell, Steuermann, and Cortot, here plays a full recital of opera paraphrases, six by Liszt and one by Busoni, and it’s obvious that he’s having as much of a ball playing them as we are listening to them. Moreover, his studies with Cortot definitely show in the way he “sings” this operatic music at the keyboard.  This is the kind of pianism that’s so good … the music not only sings, but dances—if you can, for a moment, imagine dancing to excerpts from Der fliegende Holländer!  The album closes with two live performances of the Rigoletto paraphrase with very cute spoken introductions by Lowenthal: the first incomplete, the second complete, comparing the story of Gilda and the Duke to Peter and the Wolf.  You can tell from this that Lowenthal has a great sense of humor.

With a musician this authoritative, one craves more…

I recommend it highly and without hesitation. There are too few discs of this sort that bring unalloyed joy to the listener!”

~ Lynn René Bayley

Full Article is featured in the May/June 2012 Issue of Fanfare Magazine


 FANFARE MAGAZINE

Jerome Lowenthal / 80th Birthday Celebration / Opera Paraphrases

JLo-80th-Liszt-CD-Cover“First issued on LP by RCA in 1981 and, until now, never released on CD, pianist Jerome Lowenthal’s collection of Liszt opera paraphrases has enjoyed cult status among pianophiles and connoisseurs for quite some time.  Although I had heard others rave about Lowenthal’s 1981 album in the past, this CD was my first chance to actually hear it. And although I was frankly skeptical that the recording could live up to its advance billing, I am happy to report that it did. Playing operatic transcriptions, particularly when the transcriber happens to be Liszt, is very tricky business. On top of an ironclad technique, the pianist needs to have mastered the mysterious—and nowadays nearly forgotten—art of cantabile. Lowenthal certainly is not lacking in the technique department. But, at the end of the day, it is his cantabile that steals the show here. Put simply, this is regal piano playing of the finest order, which radiates with seasoned confidence, gusto, and the kind of mastery that goes well beyond complete command of the instrument. While there have been other remarkable performers of the works featured here—Egon Petri, Claudio Arrau, Jorge Bolet, and Aldo Ciccolini come to mind for the Liszt works; Petri, John Ogdon, and, above all, the inimitable Paul Jacobs come to mind for the Busoni sonatina—Lowenthal’s accounts fully deserve to be mentioned in the same breath.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate a great artist’s 80th birthday than to share his timeless artistry with the world. Enthusiastically recommended.”

~ Radu A. Lelutiu

Full Article is featured in the May/June 2012 Issue of Fanfare Magazine


FANFARE MAGAZINE

ARENSKY Suites for Two Pianos

Arensky LP1001“Over the past four or five years, Vassily Primakov has emerged as one of the most consistently inventive pianists of his generation—and in Natalia Lavrova, he has found a partner who can match his imagination in terms of articulation, dynamics, color, phrasing, and rhythmic elasticity.  Ensemble is exceptional throughout—and the more dialogic passages have an endearing sense of give and take.”

~ Peter J. Rabinowitz

Full Article is featured in the March/April 2012 Issue of Fanfare Magazine


 FANFARE MAGAZINE

Vera Gornostaeva / Vol. I / Chopin Recital

Vera Gornostaeva Chopin Recital“This is magnificent Chopin playing, of stellar technical command, fastidious artistry, and a deep-rooted imaginative identification with the musical style. All the performances derive from recitals at the Moscow Conservatory, with applause frequently retained. The first piece on the disc, the Polonaise in C♯-Minor, commands attention immediately in its high-wire aristocratic temperament, the D♭-Major Trio ideal in its deep velvet with a hint of steel under the surface.  The Fantasy has a more classical feel than usual, all weighty control and majestic breadth, propelled by distinctively steel-edged basses, and with a rich coloristic chiaroscuro.  The outer sections of the Third Scherzo are magnificently fiery, but with crucial breathing space for every note to tell; the figurated chorale Trio is again notably classical in conception, refreshingly unmannered with wonderfully subtle coloring.  The same attributes inform her straightforward but gorgeously shaded account of the C-Minor Nocturne. Her mazurkas are consistent highlights, whether in the haunting nostalgia of op. 67/4 in A Minor, the idiomatic rhythmic shimmer of op. 30/4 in C♯-Minor, the chiseled melodic sculpting of the B Major and A♭ from op. 41, or the probing depths of the C♯-Minor and E Minor from the same set, with a resourcefully varied articulative palette everywhere in evidence. The waltzes are just as fine: from the op. 34 set, a delectably unhurried rhythmic snap with very little pedal in the A♭, and a hauntingly veiled, shadowy A Minor; from op. 64, the “Minute” played for poise rather than speed, followed by a wistful, understated C♯-Minor, mercifully free of those too-predictable hammings-up of the inner voices in the many repetitions of the moto perpetuo theme in eighth notes.

A class act indeed, and an utterly distinctive pianistic voice to add to the pantheon of the great 20th-century Russians. Production values are high, with fine-sounding transfers from (evidently) well-preserved originals. I impatiently await further volumes from LP Classics. Highest possible recommendation.”

~ Boyd Pomeroy

Full Article is featured in the March/April 2012 Issue of Fanfare Magazine


FANFARE MAGAZINE

ARENSKY Suites for Two Pianos

Arensky LP1001“… Lavrova and Primakov take turns playing the Piano I and Piano II parts, but technically and tonally they are so well-matched, you wouldn’t know who was on first and who was on second unless you read the disc’s track listing. Like the talented and imaginative chefs they are, they work wonders with the ingredients they’ve been given… Strongly recommended then for a dazzling display of two-piano works by two phenomenal pianists.”

~ Jerry Dubins

Full Article is featured in the March/April 2012 Issue of Fanfare Magazine


 JAMES WEGG REVIEWS

ARENSKY Suites for Two Pianos 

New Label Promises Novelty and Artistry

“With the arrival of LP Classics, the world can look forward to interesting, “unsafe” repertoire done up with passion, conviction and considerable skill….”  Full Article

~ S. James Wegg

 


FANFARE MAGAZINE

Vera Gornostaeva / Vol. I / Chopin Recital

“Vera Gornostaeva is a highly engaging Chopin player. I have listened to her CD five times thus far, and have not tired of it. She produces a big sound that possesses a high impact but is never coarse. Her tempos are free, yet with restraint — one always is aware of an intellectual basis for what she does. Nevertheless, her Chopin exhibits considerable warmth; that’s what makes Gornostaeva so easy to listen to. Her technique is huge. Although these are live performances, I scarcely was aware of a single finger slip. That her independence of Soviet ideology prevented her from being given access to the West by the former regime is no doubt a great loss to non-Soviet concertgoers. It is gratifying to know that LP Classics plans further releases in its Gornostaeva series, now that the pianist has retired from public performance.”

This is Chopin of taste, power and persuasiveness.

~ Dave Saemann

Full Article is featured in the March/April 2012 Issue of Fanfare Magazine


CLASSICAL MUSIC SENTINEL

ARENSKY Suites for Two Pianos

Arensky LP1001“… LP Classics take a foot in the right direction with their inaugural release by avoiding the common trap of releasing something tried and true and overly recorded, and opt instead for the Suites for Two Pianos by Russian composer Anton Arensky (1861-1906), in honor of the 150th anniversary of his birth… Better advocates than the Lavrova/Primakov Duo would be difficult to find for this music, as I’m sure it’s in their genes. They share the role of First Piano from suite to suite, but they are so evenly matched that identifying which one is playing which part at any given time would make for a good guessing game.” Full Article

Good music. Good performers. Good recording. It’s off to a good start!

~ Jean-Yves Duperron


AUDIO VIDEO CLUB OF ATLANTA

ARENSKY Suites for Two Pianos

Arensky LP1001“In these suites, Lavrova and Primakov obviously enjoy the zestful as well as the purely musical qualities of music for which Arensky did not stint on the virtuosic demands for the artists just because they share a joint  responsibility for its success.  They couldn’t have made a better choice of composer for their debut recital on the new label, as Arensky did a great deal to popularize the duo-piano genre, for which he showed a definite flair and wrote some of his very best music.”

~ Dr. Phil Muse

Full Article is featured in the January 2012 issue of Dr. Phil’s Classical Reviews


 AUDIO VIDEO CLUB OF ATLANTA

Vera Gornostaeva / Vol. I / Chopin Recital

Vera Gornostaeva Chopin Recital“The performances in the present 71minute CD program are a revelation in terms of how an artist like Gornostaeva can get right to the heart of a given piece of music and communicate its essence to the listener. There is a warmth, a sincerity, in the fifteen Chopin pieces she plays on this disc, that is difficult, if not impossible, to convey in a studio without the presence of a live audience.”

~ Dr. Phil Muse

Full Article is featured in the February 2012 issue of Dr. Phil’s Classical Reviews

 


AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE

ARENSKY Suites for Two Pianos

Arensky LP1001“This is the inaugural release for LP Classics, founded by Natalia Lavrova and Vassily Primakov.  It is a delight from start to finish.  No stranger to the pages of ARG, Primakov has garnished a significant number of excellent reviews and now teams up with another Russian pianist to form a world class duo.  Their playing of relatively obscure repertoire that deserves to be heard more often fulfills one of the label’s prime goals.  The recorded sound is top-notch, as are the booklet notes.

The Suites are all quite tuneful, well-constructed, and models of large-scale works for two pianos.  It is not surprising that Rachmaninoff composed his early Russian Rhapsody and his first two-piano suite while a student of Arensky… Arensky’s contribution to the idiom was ground-breaking.

Lavrova and Primakov capture the essence of each suite and, through their considerable talents, share with us some of the most enjoyable almost unknown music I’ve heard in quite a while.”

~ James Harrington

Full Article is featured in the March/April 2012 Issue of the American Record Guide


 AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE

Vera Gornostaeva / Vol. I / Chopin Recital

Vera Gornostaeva Chopin Recital“As the second release on the LP Classics label, this introduced me to the considerable talents of Vera Gornostaeva.  Despite her extensive Melodiya discography, these performances have never been released before.  I will always welcome a great Chopin recital and this is a perfect example of why… Kudos to Vassily Primakov and partner Natalia Lavrova for the selection and ordering of the works.

I have to say that, based on this one release, she is a phenomenal Chopin interpreter.  Her dynamic range is astonishing without ever going beyond a beautiful sound.  Her ability to build excitement over an extended section has a lot to do with her rhythmic control.  Chopin cannot be effective without a pianist capable of playing legato, not only in the melodious sections, but the often fiendish passagework that fills pages of Chopin’s music (listen to the last couple of minutes of the Scherzo and you’ll know exactly what I mean).  I could go on in detail, but there is not a weak track here, and anyone who enjoys Chopin really needs to get this recording.

The fidelity is good for the Soviet era (1974-89).  There is very little indication of audience noise except for applause, which is kept to a minimum.  The excellent booklet notes tell us that Volume 2 of Gornostaeva’s concert performances will include Rachmaninoff Preludes and Pictures at an Exhibition.  I eagerly await its release.”

James Harrington

Full Article is featured in the March/April 2012 Issue of the American Record Guide

 

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