Piano Sonatas – No.2, Op.105 (2007, rev. 2008-10); No.3, Op.122 (2011); Fantaisie, Op.134 (2014-16)
Piano Sonatas – No.2 in F-sharp minor, Op.13 (1912); No.3 in C-minor, Op.19 (1920, rev, 1939); Excentricities, Op.25 (1917-18, rev. 1923)
Sabine Weyer (piano)
Recorded August 17-20, 2020 at Kulturzentrum Immanuel, Wuppertal
Reviewed by: Richard Whitehouse
Reviewed: March 2021
CD No: ARS PRODUKTION ARS38313 [SACD]
Duration: 77 minutes
Sabine Weyer has already established herself as one of the most enterprising pianists of the younger generation. This release for Ars Produktion following on from its predecessors (above all a judicious selection of Bach transcriptions on ARS38245) demonstrates her prowess in music by composers who, born eight decades apart, exhibit much in common as regards their searching take on a pianistic tradition such as can all too easily descend into stereotype, even caricature if not approached with a level of resourcefulness and forethought.
The Sonatas by Miaskovsky are both single movement pieces written either side of the First World War, his expressionist and often futuristic tendencies heard at their most overt. Weyer keeps a firm grip over those tumultuous and introspective extremes in the Second Sonata, its Scriabinesque rhetoric channelled into a cumulatively sustained design whose culmination is both explosive and inevitable. Given here in its revised version, which affords greater formal clarity without diluting emotional intensity, the Third Sonata takes this integrative process a stage further – its structural divisions overridden by an onward striving that finds fulfilment only in its pitiless close. Here, too, Weyer has the measure of the music’s stark inner drama – albeit without losing sight of that yearning eloquence which is the composer’s defining trait.
Among the most prolific of current French composers, Nicolas Bacri has written sparingly for piano. His Second Sonata yet reveals an intuitive feel for the medium in its pivoting between limpid introspection and motoric impetuousness, which together compress a multi-movement design into a tensile single entity whose conclusion is the more arresting for its terseness of gesture. As its subtitle amply suggests, the Third Sonata (which is dedicated to the memory of Miaskovsky) is even more uninhibited in terms of its hectic onward course, but this only serves to accentuate the plangency of more inward passages – notably that marked ‘adagio’, rendered by Weyer with a raptness no less acute than her forcefulness in the ensuing fugue which carries headlong into a coda whose anguish still intimates a more positive outcome.
The recital ends with slighter if equally characteristic works by each composer. Miaskovsky compiled numerous sets of miniatures (often from pieces written in his youth and formative years), the six that comprise Excentricities being typical for their elaborating on a particular mood the more telling in its concision. Bacri’s Fantaisie feels hardly less eventful given its modest dimensions, unfolding as a prelude and fugue where the preludial and fugal aspects are deftly interwoven so the outcome is merely a stage in an evolution as could yet continue.
Make no mistake, this is an astutely conceived and impressively realised programme from a pianist who appreciates each composer on his own terms and, moreover, what connects them across eras and epochs. There are several alternatives in the Miaskovsky, notably Sviatoslav Richter’s elemental live version of the Third Sonata (Doremi), but Weyer more than equals any later account and has set the bar high for future readings of the Bacri. Superbly recorded, insightfully annotated, and the most important release so far by this highly discerning pianist.
The pianist’s website is at http://www.sabine-weyer.com/