BBC Music Magazine - - Instrumental Reviews -

Fauré: Im­promp­tus Nos 1-5; Im­promptu in D flat, Op. 86 bis; Scri­abin: Im­promp­tus, Opp. 10, 12 & 14; Piece in C mi­nor, Op. 2 No. 3; Chopin: Im­promp­tus Nos 1-4

Katya Apek­i­sheva (pi­ano)

Champs Hill Records CHRCD 135

79:27 mins

The Rus­sian pi­anist Katya Apek­i­sheva was moved to make this record af­ter be­ing drawn to Fauré’s Im­promp­tus, which are rarely per­formed; they led her on to ex­plore the genre of the im­promptu more gen­er­ally, de­spite the elu­sive­ness of an ad­e­quate def­i­ni­tion. She was ex­cited, she says, by its im­pro­vi­sa­tional qual­ity, and by the va­ri­ety of moods it could en­cap­su­late, from play­ful minia­tures to melan­cholic and pro­found pieces of mu­sic. Scri­abin’s im­promp­tus, she re­alised, were also sel­dom heard; Chopin’s four es­says in the genre would pro­vide the aes­thetic foun­da­tion, given that com­poser’s in­flu­ence on his two suc­ces­sors.

The young Scri­abin, as the lin­er­note ob­serves, used to sleep with Chopin’s mu­sic un­der his pil­low: the ‘Im­promptu à la Mazur’, which he wrote at 15, is such a faith­ful Chopin pas­tiche that it might have come from his pen. Scri­abin’s ma­ture im­promp­tus re­tain that clear link – Op. 12 No. 2 could be a Chopin noc­turne – but they also re­flect a side of this com­poser which is less busily or­nate than that of his bet­ter-known works; his un­der­ly­ing har­monies give an in­ter­rog­a­tive colour­ing to the melodies they ac­com­pany, while the Op. 14 pair have a wist­ful del­i­cacy which Apek­i­sheva ren­ders with win­ning grace.

Fauré’s im­promp­tus are dark­hued, mys­te­ri­ous, and re­mark­ably var­ie­gated in the games they play – some­times vir­tu­osic, some­times declam­a­tory, and each springs its own sur­prises. Apek­i­sheva’s great strengths are her mer­cu­rial touch and her abil­ity to cre­ate unique sound­worlds; the gar­land of pieces she has wo­ven here – with Chopin’s im­promp­tus as its cen­tral sec­tion – makes a de­light­ful 80 min­utes. Michael Church



In im­pro­visatory style: Katya Apek­i­sheva is drawn to rare Fauré

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