Hyperion Records

Sonata No 2, Op 54
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The Sonata No 2 dates from 1989 and so far constitutes Kapustin’s most extended work in the genre. Written in the bright, sanguine key of E major, it is cast in a traditional four-movement mould. There is, however, nothing at all traditional about the piano writing itself, which teems with interesting and innovative twists and turns, both stylistically and pianistically. Indeed, one remarkable feature of Kapustin’s piano writing is that it is always made to fit the hand beautifully. He always insists on composing at the piano, in order to avoid coming up with figurations which would not fit the hand well. Prokofiev once described one of Nikolai Medtner’s short piano pieces as being so comfortable as to be ‘always right there, under the fingers’. The same can unquestionably be said of Kapustin at any point within the body of his piano works. Indeed, my personal feeling is that, on a purely pianistic level, Kapustin and Medtner tower above any other piano composer in history, as far as pure comfort at the keyboard is concerned.

It is best to leave the listener to discover the many surprises contained in this exuberant work—as well as the various apparent influences—though a couple of features are worth pointing out. The brilliant and overwhelmingly energetic first movement is curiously but very effectively rounded out by a reflective and rather lengthy coda, in great contrast to the ebullience of what came before. And the last movement is unique in its rhythmic framework; it is a perpetual motion set in a repeated pattern of 8+7+8+5 beats, and keeps to this stilted sequence up to the very last bar, resulting in many unexpected accents. Incidentally, this movement is usually thought to have been inspired by the pianism of Art Tatum, but this is because it is often performed too quickly. Kapustin’s stated influence here is the world of country music.

from notes by Marc-André Hamelin © 2008

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Details for CDA67159 track 20
Largo
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-00-15920
Duration
5'25
Recording date
12 September 1999
Recording venue
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Tony Faulkner
Hyperion usage
  1. Kapustin: Piano Music, Vol. 1 (CDA67159)
    Disc 1 Track 20
    Release date: May 2000
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