Hugh Canning
The Sunday Times
June 2014

The Russian composer’s works for solo piano remain the most neglected of his entire oeuvre, although The Seasons—a suite of 12 short pieces actually representing the months of the year, with descriptive subtitles—has gained a wider public as the basis of the score for John Cranko’s Onegin ballet, in Kurt-Heinz Stolze’s stylish orchestrations. Kolesnikov, the Russian-born, London-based winner of the 2012 Honens Competition in Canada (sponsor of this disc), regards these little masterpieces as almost too private for the concert hall, and so ideal for recording. He treats them not as salon music, but in the spirit of Schumann’s many collections of piano pieces, the obvious inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s 1876 set. February’s 'Allegro giusto' is subtitled Carnaval, a clear reference to Schumann’s Op 9. Certainly, Kolesnikov emphasises the delicacy and intimacy of these infrequently played pieces, written for gifted amateurs rather than professional virtuosi—they appeared monthly in the music/theatre journal Nuvellist throughout 1876. They are Tchaikovsky’s 'songs without words', although entirely pianistic, and it is wonderful to hear a young Russian avoiding the barnstorming style of so many contemporaries. He plays the 'Six Pieces' with affection and élan.