Blumina Plays Weinberg

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WEINBERG: Piano Sonata, Op. 49b. Piano Sonatas Nos. 2 & 4 / Elisaveta Blumina, pno / CPO 555104-2

Since I already own, and enjoy, Allison Brewster Franzetti’s 2-CD set of Weinberg’s complete piano sonatas, I was curious to hear how Elisaveta Blumina played the three on this album. She takes what I would characterize as a more “Russian” approach to the music, i.e., crisp rhythms and a rich tone, bringing the music more in line stylistically to that of Shostakovich. It’s a fascinating way of looking at them; by putting as much if not more focus on the music’s structure as on its moods, Blumina gives the music a crisper, more direct sound profile. Considering this approach, I was somewhat surprised to learn that she is a German pianist.

In characterizing her playing this way, I am not trying to say that her approach is too direct or that it glosses over the subtleties in Weinberg’s music. On the contrary, she relaxes her tone and style in the slower movements, and in the softer sections within the fast movements, to bring out the unusual quality of his music. This is particularly evident in the Op. 49b sonata, played with great sensitivity and attention to detail. Blumina also captures the quirky musical progressions and rhythms perfectly.

My sole caveat was that Blumina tends to make all of the sonatas sound pretty much alike. Although there are common features among them, her basic approach and sound palette seem geared towards a one-size-fits-all approach. She really only has three volume levels, soft, medium and loud, and for whatever reason her playing tends towards a surface reading of each sonata. Franzetti gave more variety to the music, in my view. Nonetheless, if you do not have the Franzetti recordings, Blumina’s approach is certainly appealing on a certain level. I just felt that it wasn’t quite varied enough for Weinberg.

—© 2018 Lynn René Bayley

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