NIKOLAI KAPUSTIN (b. 1937): Piano Sonatas No. 1, Op. 39 “Sonata-Fantasia” and No. 7, Op. 64, Concert Études, Op. 40, Nos. 1 & 7, Bagatelles, Op. 59, Nos. 6 & 9, Variations, Op. 41.
Catalogue Number: 12R043
Label: Piano Classics
Description: The Seventh Sonata - hugely enjoyable like the rest of Kapustin's output, assuming you like his unique brand of meticulously annotated, formally structured music that sounds exactly like jazz - is especially interesting in the degree to which it is both strictly sonata-like and consists of material all of which is engagingly 'jazzy'. The first movement is perhaps Kapustin's clearest use of sonata form, complete with exposition repeat, strongly contrasting first and second subjects, an extended development which varies the subjects separately and in combination, and a recapitulation which elaborates the material as it is presented in its original sequence. The second movement sounds like an elaborate improvisation on an imaginary Gershwin song; the third is a minuet with an unusual 'trio' in 5/4; the restless syncopation throughout suggests jazz, though the movement as a whole is based on the least jazz-like material. The allegro-finale is a cross between a kind of rondo and jazz variations on a theme, ending with a coda that reprises the sonata's opening gesture. The First Sonata, as the subtitle suggests, makes much freer use of the sonata template, and the piece is more of a heavily jazz-inflected tonal sonata in the Russian style than a jazz piece like the majority of the later sonatas. The disc is rounded out with an appealing selection of the familiar shorter pieces, including the clever Variations, which sounds like something you might hear from a really good improvising jazzer during cocktail hour, until the theme is revealed to be the bassoon solo that opens Le sacre du printemps. Sun Hee You (piano).