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The Luxembourgian pianist Sabine Weyer has always explored music offthe beaten track, and this album takes us into novel territory. Nikolai Miaskovsky, born in 1881, lived through the Bolshevik Revolution, which he first supported then recoiled from (his father was shot in 1930). He became a professor of composition at the Moscow Conservatory and suffered from the Stalinist persecution of modernist music. French composer Nicolas Bacri, born in 1961, admired Miaskovsky so much that he dedicated his Third Sonata to him. He has made a name as a rebel against the rigid avant-gardism of the post-Darmstadt school.

As Weyer points out in her liner note, the music of these two composers feels remarkably cognate: ‘They share the same hyper- expressiveness, with dark, tortured, panting climates … of a lost lyricism or a poignant melancholy.’

Miaskovsky’s Second Sonata could almost have been written by Scriabin. It opens with wildly swirling harmonies, its headlong flight only punctuated and anchored by the Russian signature-tune of the Dies irae. His Third Sonata, composed after he had witnessed the horrors of war and the murder of his father, reflects a mind purged in the fires, resigned but still raging. Bacri picks up the torch where Miaskovsky leftoff: their pianistic idioms are strikingly similar, with Bacri’s richly elaborated textures delivered by Weyer with what seems like nonchalant ease. This album is all big pianism, and she’s absolutely on top of it.

MICHAEL CHURCH Read the full review on Agora Classica

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