Maria Kochetkova is exceptional as Juliet, her movements always graceful, supple and beautiful. Her facial expressions early in the ballet radiate an ingratiating childlike innocence and joy, but in the darker and more tragic moments later on transform subtly to frustration, fear and sadness. She is a fine actress and a great dancer. Davit Karapetyan makes a splendid Romeo: his dance scenes with Juliet exude passion and deep love, and his sword fight with Tybalt divulges both exceptional athleticism and gracefulness. Luke Ingham in the role of Tybalt is also very convincing, both in his dancing and acting skills. (Robert Cummings, Classical Net)
Lisa Batiashvili is a wonderful violinist, and this fine album of Prokofiev’s two concertos marks another milestone in a career that leaps from mountain peak to mountain peak. She characterizes each work with great insight and style, clearly attuned to the biographical background of this most complex of 20th-century composers. What’s also striking is the range of color and volume with which Batiashvili and Nézet-Séguin invest the music, unusually faithful to the score—the opening of the Second Concerto is done with great imagination and some stunning solo and orchestral playing. Three short Prokofiev pops are delightful extras.
The Russian-British pianist Alexander Melnikov has recorded Shostakovich and a variety of Romantic chamber music with great success. But nothing quite prepares the listener for the controlled power in these performances of three Prokofiev piano sonatas. The Piano Sonata No. 6 in A major, Op. 82, and Piano Sonata No. 8 in B flat major, Op. 84, are among the most modernist works Prokofiev ever wrote. They appeared during World War II and are often thought, with some justification, to reflect that environment.
Italian sisters Natascia and Raffaella Gazzana deliver a sensitively performed survey of French music of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, alongside a nod to modern Hungarian composer György Ligeti. They place Franck’s monumental Sonata in A Major at the heart of their program, its second movement Allegro blazing with passion, the final Allegretto beautifully restrained yet unleashed in the closing bars. Ravel’s Sonate Posthume is a fascinating document of a 22-year-old composer’s development, in thrall to early Impressionism, while Messiaen’s equally youthful “Thème et Variations,” played with sparkling clarity and poise, shows a composer ahead of his time. Ligeti’s direct musical language functions almost as a refreshing sorbet among the French riches.