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Ufuk Dördüncü Bahar Dördüncü
Works for 2 Pianists Under Soviet Rule: Prokofiev and Shostakovich
There's a cachet of hipness (deserved or not) about Soviet-era music, and another, totally contradictory, cachet surrounding the composers who challenged the strictures of "socialist realism" imposed by Stalin and Khrushchev.
As icons both of Soviet and anti-Soviet music, Dmitri Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev get to have it both ways.

That gives every piece they wrote a third level of cachet, that of mystery: Is it or isn't it? The two suites on this disc will not dispel any of these three spells. They're demonstrative, bombastic and expressive, according to Socialist Realist imperative, yet highly individualistic, often pessimistic and occasionally jarring and dissonant, as befits the work of an enemy of the people. Furthermore, these two composers could hardly differ more in temperament.

Prokofiev's "Cinder¬ella' suite is a brilliant perpetual motion machine, a dance of axles and gears. It's like an ice carving of early Stravinsky. By contrast, Shostakovich's "Suite for Two Pianos," composed at age 16, is hot with grand emotions and grand concepts. Shostakovich was so obsessed with the tolling bell theme of this suite he used it again in his last work, a viola sonata com-posed just before his death in 1975. The performances here are brilliant, precise, steely and just scary enough. Then again, there's something very Soviet about the sheer idea of using two pianos you double the sound production while subordinating the sole interpreter to a collective. Never-theless, the composers' voices come through loud and clear in Ufuk and Bahar Dördüncü's fine interpretation.

Lawrence Cosentino

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