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“Russian Transcriptions”
Alexander Borodin: String Quartet n° 2: ”Nocturne” in A major
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Suite: Waltz of the Flowers
Sergei Rachmaninov: Fifteen Songs, opus 26: n° 12 “Night is mournful” – Twelve Songs, opus 21: n° 7 “How fair this spot” – Fourteen Songs, opus 34: n° 14 “Vocalise” – Italian Polka, opus 17
Sergei Prokofiev: Suite from “On the Dnieper”, opus 51a
Mikhail Glinka: Valse-Fantaisie in B minor

Vyacheslav Gryaznov (piano)
Recording: Steinway Hall, New York City, New York (April 25-27, 2017) – 60’31
Steinway & Sons 30082 – Booklet in English

In his own words, Vyacheslav Gryaznov is quoted, “…my goal is always to clarify the sense and soul of the music I choose to arrange for the piano, and to make it sound natural on the piano.” Reformulation is a personalized experience, and, indeed, he does with invigorating response.

Every time the Moscow Conservatory trained pianist places his hands on the keys, there is an opportunity for independent discovery…high individualized and “in the now.” This all-Russian album broadly moves from a softer core, then graduating into testier waters via Prokofiev and a crackling spark under Glinka.

The most illustrative examples of Vyacheslav Gryaznov’s floridness and technique rest with Borodin, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. In the first two pieces we lucidly hear an edgy bite of jazzy, contemporary vibe, pleasing in form while consuming the mind. The “Nocturne” version has comfortable atmosphere. This and in Rachmaninov’s “Night is mournful” end unresolved…very effective, giving the works a modernistic flair. An innovative use of the pedal inside the “Waltz of the Flowers” generates a classical “aha!” moment and a daring dash of happiness.

Rachmaninov’s priceless and emotional compositions have a cerebral thought. Aflush with roulades in the middle section, the Italian Polka gives instantaneous appeal with its sparkly sprinkle of high notes [in the opening measures] along with a snowballing tempo that only gets better as the music unfolds. Clocking in at under three and a half minutes, this dance number journeys as its own novella and is a masterful accent to the Russian’s name.

Perhaps due to its disjunctive outlay and esoteric values, the relatively obscure On the Dnieper Suite has a way of obfuscating M. Gryaznov’s approaches. This ballet music muddies the pianist’s astounding qualities. It would have been more effective for M. Gryaznov to have only showcased Borodin, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. By adding Prokofiev and Glinka, “Russian Transcriptions” skews the album’s homogeneity and overall likeability.

Christie Grimstad




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