One hopes that the appearance of these two recordings of Tchaikovsky's suite of pieces generally known in English as The Seasons (first published with the title in French and which ought properly to be known as 'The Months', as the 12 pieces are each named after a month of the year) will lead to a greater awareness of the splendid quality of this music, which is hardly ever encountered in the recital room, but which—at around 42-44 minutes in total—would make a splendid concluding item in a solo programme. This is Tchaikovsky at his best, in music of relatively short duration and of very wide-ranging character.
Perhaps the rather inaccurate belief that Tchaikovsky's piano music is either not well written for the instrument or is not particularly rewarding will be shown to be false by these performances, for both pianists give really fine interpretations of the individual movements and of the worl overall, and it is much to their individual credit that they have each chosen this music for their debut CDs, although it is a little unfortunate that they have clashed in terms of repertoire in the one work.
It has been a difficult matter to choose between them in The Seasons—at times, initially comparing one 'month' after another, I found my preferences veering this way an that, but if I had to choose one above the other—and it is a very close-run thing—it would fall to the young Siberian-born Pavel Kolesnikov, if only because at times he shows just an extra degree of poetry and is somewhat better recorded, under the watchful eye (and ear) of possibly the greatest living classical record producer.
Kolesnikov is also to be applauded for including the complete Op 19 pieces. I have always regarded this opus as a mistake by Tchaikovsky—the first five pieces form a unified set of around 20 minutes' duration, and the sixth is truly a separate set of Variations on an original theme, lasting about 11 minutes. Had Tchaikovsky published the final item as a single work, Op 20 (before ascribing that number to Swan Lake), I am sure that this wonderful piece would have received many more performances. As it is, as Op 19 No 6, it tends to get overlooked, which is a pity, and once again I trust that this outstandingly fine interpretation (as with the other five items) will help bring the whole of Tchaikovsky's Op 19 to the attention of pianists on the lookout for worthwhile and relatively unfamiliar music.
It would be difficult to imagine a finer or more impressive debut for this young pianist, who, according to the booklet information, is continuing his studies under various piano professors in three countries. David Fanning's notes are as excellent as one might expect, and all in all, this CD is very strongly recommended.
I look forward to future releases from this very gifted young musician.