A remarkable disc of Prokofiev

Pianist Nikolai Lugansky gives it his all in this brilliant selection of Prokofiev's piano repertoire; astonishing performance

Composer: Prokofiev
Repertoire: Piano Sonatas 4 & 6; Romeo & Juliet (selection)
Artists: Nikolai Lugansky (piano)
Rating: 5/5
Genre: Instrumental
Label: Warner 2564-61255-2

The 4th is one of Prokofiev’s least-played piano sonatas, due largely to its preoccupation with melancholic half-lit textures during the first two movements. Nothing could be further from the dynamic force of the sixth, whose fiendish pianistic gymnastics place this ground-breaking work firmly in the super-virtuoso category. Different again is Prokofiev’s irrepressibly inventive music for Romeo & Juliet, a ballet that the Bolshoi originally found ‘insufficiently dance-like’!

This is music that thrives on lashings of pianistic colour, timbral ingenuity and an ability to sustain textural interest in even the most thunderous of passages – qualities that Nikolai Lugansky possesses in abundance. Normal mortals are usually relieved enough merely to get around the notes of the Sixth Sonata, but Lugansky sounds like a man with an extra hand, so miraculously does he conjure up ear-tweaking combinations of sounds under wrist-crippling technical pressure. His rare ability to find interest in even the most subdued of textures pays real dividends in the fourth sonata, while the playful musical asides of R&J  also come leaping off the page. Indeed, Lugansky’s flawless execution of The Young Juliet’s scamperings is borderline unbelievable.