Great and unique music - truly deserves to be more popular!,
This review is from: Mosolov - Piano Sonatas Nos 2 and 5; Two Nocturnes (Audio CD)
These piano sonatas are masterpieces of 20th century Modernism! They are highly original works but if you like Prokofiev or Russian Modernism in general then you will love these.
You will perhaps have come across some obscure music from Soviet Russia before. Many times it is accompanied by flattering remarks and comments touting the composer's genius. Then you listen to it and think: so what - sounds like a poor version of composer XYZ? There is a lot of this kind of 'second rate' (I hate to say it) music out there. This however is where Mosolov stands out. His music is NOT like that at all. This is genuinely unique stuff which truly deserves a place in the pianist's repertoire!
Mosolov's music is extremely dark and artistic. It can be enjoyed very much on an conventional aesthetic level since his works are in fact tonal and are extremely well structured, much like Prokofiev's works - so they require no 'special training' or knowledge of music theory to appreciate, just an open mind, and perhaps an artistic propensity towards the darker side...
In fact this music was formed by the aspiring young Mosolov somewhere in the wake of Prokofiev's early career and during his absence in Paris. The 2nd piano sonata has the subtitle 'From old notebooks' which is certainly in homage to Prokofiev and contains some very powerful music! The 5th sonata is epic in proportion. The nocturnes are a really nice addition although they might give you nightmares if you have a particularly vivid imagination!
My slightly more technical description of Mosolov's earlier works would be that they are Scriabin-esque in atmosphere (but hugely dark whereas Scriabin is all mystic and light), that they employ Stravinsky inspired compositional techniques (the handling of themes and melodic figures for instance), and yet they are much closer to Prokofiev in structure (the structure is based around polyphonic techniques which come from Prokofiev), but of course they are unmistakably Mosolov and if you haven't yet heard them, do buy this CD.
As for the performance, it is really good. The music is technically very difficult to play and interpret (speaking from experience) and somehow Henck manages to pull it off almost flawlessly! I think he aims to just 'play what's actually there' in keeping with the modern view of the performance of Modernist music. I would personally also love to hear a really artistic interpretation of these works. Additionally, both sonatas are just crying out to be orchestrated. (listen to Mosolov's newspaper advertisements to get an idea of what they could sound like)