S022567 Reviews

S022567 Magic of the Russian Flute

InTune Magazine, May 1996 by HT

20th century Russian
Magic of the Russian Flute
Leonid Mironovich, flute;
Euginia Mironovich, piao
[Sonora SO22567CD, DDD]

Four of the six works by 20th Century Russian composers are here are listed as premiere recordings. But none of them represent well known works. They also have the advantage of being played by one of Russia's outstanding wind players, Leonid Mironovich, skillfully accompanied by his wife, Eugenia. So as a rare example of a neglected flute school of performance and composition, this release is special. The premiere works include Sofia Gubaidulina's Allegro, Sergei Vasilenko's The Spring Suite, Op. 138, Galmer Sinisalo's Three Miniatures and V. Nagovitzin' s Sonata, Op.ll. All here is played with uncommon warmth by Mironovich, whose control of timbre is beautiful and impressive. (He's served as principal for both the Moscow State and Moscow Radio Symphonies.) Even in fast staccato, Mironovich maintains a glowing tone -- and superb pitch. This is star-quality playing, much in the Rampal manner. Let's face it: only Prokofiev's Sonata made it out of Russia into Western repertory. Mironovich ignores the obvious Prokofiev, in favor of a fresh view. Naturally, several of the works belong in the class of folksy Socialist Realism: tonally conservative, all too often artificially grinning music. But there are exceptions. Denisov's one-movement Sonata and Nagovitzin' s even more amazing Sonata that flirts with atonality. (The booklet fails to mention Nagovitzin's first name, although this is the most imposing masterpiece on the disc.) Gubaidulina's Allegro, Sinisalo's Miniatures and Taktakishvili's quasi Shostakovich Sonata are well made, but merely examples of the smiling-peasant school. They, and the curiously French-sounding Spring Suite of Vasilenko (1872-1956), seem more about flute playing than the art of composition. It's Mironovich's artistry that carries the day, whatever the music. He deserves wider recognition as a true master flutist. Balanced, basic sonics are fine, but there's not a word of meaningful information in the booklet. For such unusual music, that's a serious flaw. Still, there is much pleasurable music here, and all of it stunningly played.

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