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Anna Vinnitskay

3 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 26, 2009
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 26, 2009)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naive
  • ASIN: B001U5PDZG
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,858 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
Anna Vinnitskaya is a Russian pianist in her twenties who has won prizes in several European piano competitions (e.g., Queen Elisabeth [Belgium], Leonard Bernstein Prize of the Schleswig-Holstein Festival [Germany]). She performed in the exclusive atmosphere of the Verbier Festival in 2007 to some acclaim. This CD of twentieth-century Russian piano music is her debut recording. From the evidence of this CD she clearly has technique and musicality in abundance.

Vinnitskaya plays Rachmaninov's Second Piano Sonata in its shortened, revised 1931 version. She is particularly effective in its second movement, a set of variations with a striking play of light and shadow. She follows this with Sofia Gubaidulina's nine-minute-long Chaconne, a monolith of powerful chords based on a ground bass which proceeds to increasingly frenzied figurations, brief respite and then a final triumphant, if brusque, conclusion.

Nikolay Medtner's one-movement Sonata Reminiscenza in A Minor, Op. 38, No. 1 is one of his cycle of piano pieces, Forgotten Melodies. The work, here in the middle of a neatly constructed program, represents an island of repose and grace surrounded by works of strength and drama. It is deservedly one of Medtner's most popular works, here given a performance of calm beauty.

The program concludes with one of Prokofiev's so-called 'War Sonatas', the Sonata No. 7 in B Flat, Op. 83 (1942). It was premiered by the young Sviatoslav Richter whose recordings of the work remain benchmarks for subsequent pianists. Vinnitskaya plays the beginning of the first movement faster than one usually hears, and then she startlingly slows down for the movement's quiet section; I feel these tempi cause some loss of impact, although one cannot but admire her technique.
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Format: Audio CD
According to the liner notes Ms. Vinnitskaya has won several first prizes and different kinds of awards - but that tells much more of the classical music industry in general than any musicality inherent in her playing.

Her Rachmaninov Piano Sonata no. 2 here is little more than a competent run-through of the notes. The piece plays through without any sense of meaning or understanding whatsoever - after first minute the thread is irrevocably lost, and never again recovered. To put it bluntly, she turns it into a study of tedium. Any sense of passion and romanticism is absent in this rendition.

Of Gubaidulina's Chaconne i can say little as i'm not familiar with the piece, but suffice to say her playing does little justice to it if there is a point to the piece. It is not superficially unpleasant to listen to, though - merely pointless. i could guess it's her best rendition on this album, as later neo-classical composers often leave me cold.

Medtner's Reminiscenza fairs very little better. It is beautiful at first, but only due to the notes themselves - other than that the piece is played with little insight - indeed it remains as cold and technical as the earlier ones, and her total incomprehension and unromantic touch overwhelms the listener. It's absolutely nothing more than a run through of notes of this highly underrated, or at least little known, masterpiece of romantic beauty. It is as disastrous as her Rachmaninov.

And not to prolong the review unnecessarily, Prokofiev's PS no. 7 suffers similarly under her fingers.

A way to sum up the CD, i could say this is piano playing, not music.

Talented technically Ms.
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