Études-tableaux, Op.33Études-tableaux, Op.39
Rustem Hayroudinoff (piano)
Reviewed by: Richard Whitehouse
Reviewed: 25 May, 2005
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London
And, with his recent Chandos disc of the Preludes having been widely praised, Rustem Hayroudinoff might just be the pianist to make the integral approach cohere. The F minor study, with its ringing sonorities, was briskly dispatched, and if the questioning dialogue of the C major was a trifle understated, there was no doubting his identity with the transfigured quality of its C minor successor. Strange that Rachmaninov withheld both this and the D minor piece from publication – the latter, though lightweightin comparison, has a rhythmic élan which Hayroudinoff clearly relished. He then brought limpid clarity to the E flat minor ‘Snowstorm’ study, and a robust vigour to that in E flat. More could perhaps have been made of the poignancy-enfolding-anger trajectory that is the G minor piece, but the turbulent drama of that in C sharp minor made for a balefully impressive conclusion to the shorter Opus 33 set.
As Hayroudinoff himself noted, the Op. 39 collection is more sombre in mood than its predecessor – as if Rachmaninov’s self-absorption were compounded by the turmoil engulfing Russia in this period. The aura of calm that tempers the initial C minor study came but fittingly, and the anxious contemplation permeating the seascape of the first in A minor was palpably rendered (though with some momentary blurring of inner parts). Those in F sharp minor and B minor are the most musically severe in their driving counterpoint and fugal interplay: Hayroudinoff seemed a little disengaged here, whereas the effulgent emotion of the E flat minor was savoured to the full. The capricious feel of the second A minor study (held over from the Opus 33 set) brought a welcome lightening of mood before the C minor epic that the pianist rightly sees as the culmination of the whole series: Rachmaninov the emotional being is encapsulated in this varied yet powerfully cohesive piece – with its ‘life and death’ duality. Hayroudinoff (understandably) seemed detached in the cascading sequences of the D minor study, but ensured the one in D major saw this cycle manqué through to a resoundingly optimistic close.
In short, this recital suggested a future for the Études-tableaux as an integral cycle. No doubt Rustem Hayroudinoff will extend his interpretative approach in future traversals – but, for now, a leonine G minor Prelude and insouciant Polka de WR rounded off an evening of highly absorbing music-making.