Hyperion Records

Piano Sonata No 4, Op 19

'Alexandrov: Piano Music' (CDA67328)
Alexandrov: Piano Music
Movement 1: Agitato mosso, con slancio vigoroso e gran' passione
Track 7 on CDA67328 [7'31] Archive Service
Movement 2: Andante meditativo
Track 8 on CDA67328 [5'23] Archive Service
Movement 3: Invocando, un poco sostenuto
Track 9 on CDA67328 [4'59] Archive Service

Piano Sonata No 4, Op 19
The Fourth Sonata, Op 19, dates from 1922 (revised in 1954). It became a firm favourite with the audiences that gathered at the Wednesday musical soirées of the musicologist Pavel Lamm – a meeting place for a number of Moscow composers. Its striking C major optimism full of victory hymns, dashing march rhythms and rich-sounding cantilenas announced a change in style that was to be characteristic of the compositions of the 1930s but which typically emerged long before the ideological struggles and the later restrictions. The composer’s own interpretation reads almost like a programme for this sonata:

My creative work is based on two contrasting but connected principles. One is the idyll, the serene attitude to life, devoid of shadows. The other is scepticism, irony, sometimes sarcasm. Scepticism accompanies the idyll, casts doubt, as it were, on the assumption that life is devoid of clouds and that one can abandon oneself to such bliss. But scepticism in my works never emerges victorious.

The psychology and dramaturgy of the Fourth Sonata are diametrically opposed to the Third Sonata, which gropes hesitantly forward full of doubts: the triumphantly domineering main theme heralds the victory, which otherwise was still to be won, as a programmatic certainty. Some traces of Prokofiev-like sarcasm, instead of providing a counter-balance, serve rather as a springboard for further heightenings and intensifications. The sonata does not just give the impression of being a unified whole: its stability and confidence engender happiness, and it attains an undisguised grandiosity through the cyclical return of the themes in the stormy finale. Small wonder that Heinrich Neuhaus liked performing this work and, according to contemporary reviews, proceeded with even more vitality than the composer had in mind.

from notes by Christoph Flamm © 2002
English: Roland Smithers

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