Capable Fingers And Dour Demeanor

Review by: Jed Distler


Artistic Quality: 6

Sound Quality: 9

Shorena Tsintsabadze’s capable fingers and dour demeanor first caught my attention through her 2010 Naxos release of the Sergei Lyapunov Piano Concertos and Rhapsody on Ukrainian Themes. Ten years later, she appears to be more or less the same kind of pianist.

You can’t dispute the integrity of her articulation and voice leading throughout Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes, where the pianist follows Sviatoslav Richter’s lead by inserting the five alternative variations all together between the original variations five and six. She’s best when floating the lyrical variations’ long legato lines, while the pianist’s subtle pressing ahead in the finale somewhat circumvents the music’s long-winded tendencies. Elsewhere, lightness of touch and suppleness of phrasing are in short supply.

I like how Tsintsabadze contours the Brahms B-flat minor Intermezzo Op. 117 No. 3’s inner voices more than her predictably insistent accents. She could be simpler in the E-flat major No. 1’s outer sections, but she effectively ruminates over the central episode’s cross-rhythmic gestures. Tsintsabadze’s aforementioned dour and turgid side returns for the C-sharp minor No. 3 Intermezzo.

While Tsintsabadze plays Chopin’s Andante spianato at an appreciably faster pace than usual, she turns the poetic decorative passages into monochrome prose. Although the Grande polonaise moves in fits and starts due to Tsintsabadze’s provincial ritards and heavy downbeats, there’s enough teasingly elegant tracery to suggest a playful interpretive persona in embryo. Or is that wishful thinking?

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Recording Details:

Album Title: Klavier Romantik
Reference Recording: Schumann: Richter (Eurodisc); Rana (Harmonia Mundi), Brahms: Ax (Sony); Hough (Hyperion), Chopin: Sherbanova (Dux)

ROBERT SCHUMANN: Symphonic Etudes Op. 13
JOHANNES BRAHMS: Intermezzi Op. 117
FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN: Andante spianato ed grand polonaise Op. 22

  • Shorena Tsintsabadze (piano)

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