Feb 17, 2023
London, UNITED KINGDOM - Barbican
RACHMANINOV Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
w/ BBC Symphony Orchestra
Hannu Lintu, conductor
May 25th, 2013
“Kozhukhin is a terrific player. He seems to combine massive technique, sensitivity and great intellect all within the same body, something mightily rare these days. As these sonatas appear to be his calling card it would be rash to suggest we take our hats off to a genius – I need to hear him in other repertoire – but that he is a musician of stature is beyond doubt. There were no technical obstacles for him in this recital, which is saying something…
[In the Sixth’s Sonata] Kozhukhin’s sense of contrast was great indeed – the more relaxed sections were very ruminative. Yet he can do charm, too, as in the echt-Prokofiev staccato at the beginning of the Allegretto second movement; contrasting profundity made the third movement – Tempo di valzer lentissimo – radiant. His sound was miraculously deep here, his pianissimi properly so and yet with true, projected tone. The Vivace finale was not just fast, but was sinisterly so, an undercurrent far more pronounced here than many other readings.
The Seventh Sonata (1939-42) began with evidence of the consideration Kozhukhin had given these scores. The opening was fast, yes, but beautifully balanced; the first climax, though, was frenetic, balanced to perfection by the emotional significance he found in the slower sections. The imitation tolling bells of the central Andante caloroso (‘caloroso’ means warmly) left an indelible impression, as did Kozhukhin’s way with the characteristically Prokofievian inflections of that movement’s first theme. The fast finale, marked Precipitato was massively exciting – more so than his recording – a visceral experience that will not easily be forgotten…
The Eighth Sonata… is a dark, enigmatic piece, it is true – but surely that is all the more reason to honour it. Kozhukhin revealed just how warm his sound can be at the opening of the huge first movement, and his sure grasp of the piece as a whole meant he could guide us through this spectral, disquieting landscape magnificently. One marvelled again at his technique, not only in terms of numbers of notes, but also about how perfectly he weighted the close of the second movement and how he made the finale sparkle blackly – and if you know this piece, you’ll know that’s not a contradiction. There is a tremendous maturity on offer from Kozhukhin – occasionally, there was the impression that one was exploring the darkest reaches of Prokofiev’s psyche, an impression that was simultaneously unsettling and stimulating.
This was a fascinating recital from a pianist of whom I want to hear much more.”
Seen and Heard International, May 2013
“Kozhukhin’s interpretations were fabulously nuanced and with an uncanny skill in bringing out the tone-colours of different simultaneous lines… [the Seventh Sonata’s] central Andante caloroso moved me to tears.”
www.davidnice.blogspot.co.uk, May 2013