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CD Review

Serge Prokofieff

Piano Sonatas

  • Piano Sonatas #1-9
  • Two Transcriptions from the Lieutenant Kijé Suite
Frederic Chiu
Harmonia Mundi 907086.88 173min
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This is a frustrating release. Chiu has obvious talent. In addition to his formidable technique, he is also capable of occasional flashes of interpretive brilliance. Take Sonata 6, for example. III displays all that is best about both Prokofieff and this artist – it's poetic, warmly atmospheric, nostalgic, and lovely. Unfortunately, the rest of the sonata is given a dry and mechanical reading. Chiu marches through this richly inventive score with little expression, feeling or contrast. IV, especially, sounds nasty and abrupt. This same inconsistency mars the remaining sonatas, except, curiously, for Chiu's lush, romantic, and thoroughly committed reading of Sonata 1, which is by far Prokofieff's least interesting piano work. Harmonia Mundi's sound is harsh and clangorous, with microphones placed so far inside the piano that you can almost hear the hammers hitting the strings.

Copyright © 1995, Thomas Godell.
This review originally appeared in the American Record Guide