Sonata in D minor, Op.31/2 (Tempest)
Sonata in B minor
Sonata in C, K330
Evgheny Brakhman (piano)
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: July 2002
CD No: EMI CDM 5 67935 2
This is one of four CDs entitled “Martha Argerich Presents”. Her maxim is that “supporting talented young artists and helping them gain recognition is an integral and essential part of my work”. Evgheny Brakhman, born 1981 in Gorky, is clearly an accomplished artist. His poise throughout is delightful and there is no lack of contrast, either dynamic or emotional.
The Mozart sparkles; Brakhman’s tempi are what one might call sensible. Add to this maturity a cunning sense of being able to allow the music to inhabit different sensibilities without drawing attention. Thus Mozart’s slow movement warms nicely in its development after an innocent beginning, and Brakhman’s return to charm is judicious.
He creates just the right amount of atmosphere at the opening of the so-called ’Tempest’ sonata – Beethoven advised a friend to read Shakespeare if he wanted to know what the music was about – yet the ’Allegro’ sections sound underplayed, certainly for Beethoven, if not for musical articulacy. A greater sense of narrative informs the ’Adagio’, while the ’Finale’, with its spinning-wheel allusions, is delightfully rendered. If only Brakhman had sustained the sense of fantasy he established with the opening (and recurring) arpeggio. This is though a very musical performance, but Beethoven needs to have a little more impulse and something craggier.
With Liszt’s sonata, Brakhman’s attempt at one of piano literature’s summits is, at 33 minutes, one of the slower traversals. Initially he appears more concerned to get the notes in the right place. After a few moments, he’s opening up, the emotion is more palpable and he invests some meaningful phrasing, and a sense of theatre and soul, without harming Liszt’s intricate structure. Although he stretches the slower sections perhaps too much, one remains aware of the bigger picture.
Beautifully recorded, one can appreciate Brakhman’s deft, sensitive playing in the bass – not least his lightly touched staccato – and some imperious trills in the right hand. Brakhman has the stamp of a real musician about him, a concern for the text, the large design, and an ability to bring music alive – without going overboard – which should serve him, and us, well in the years ahead.