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ClassicsOnline Home » PROKOFIEV, S.: Piano Sonata No. 7 / BARTOK, B.: Romanian Folk Dances / Suite, Op. 14 (Biret Archive Edition, Vol. 14)
“All the works [on this LP] require a pianist of true class, because each of them presents challenges demanding something quite different from traditional technique. It has to be said that the young Idil Biret exceeds all expectations. This Turkish artist appeared in Brussels (1959) at the tender age of eighteen. Her virtuosity is astonishing, encompassing clarity, rhythmical rigour, precision and strength or delicacy, as required. She can play at great speed and maintain runs of impeccable luminosity. Her flexible touch conjures a thousand surprising effects; some notes and chords explode like whip-cracks, while others caress the keys, and there is an extraordinary purity to her polyphonic playing. In the hands of an artist of such superior qualities, the very particular characteristics of both Bartók’s and Prokofiev’s piano writing are brought out to the full. Taking into account her passionate vitality and lively musical intelligence as well, I believe her talent offers more than enough to be met not simply with satisfaction but with genuine enthusiasm.”
Jacques Stehman – LA REVUE DES DISQUES (Belgium) 1962
I remember well the day when Idil, still an adolescent at the time, came to my office on Avenue Hoche in Paris, in a mansion where the Véga record label was installed (those were the days when record publishers were rolling in cash). I had never met Idil but knew her from the first recordings she made for the Pretoria label, for which I had been asked to write the music notes. I had invited Idil for a first meeting with the idea to propose her a collaboration. She came to avenue Hoche with her parents—and my most vivid memory of her that day was the authority she showed, her will, and the gentle but firm manner with which she made her parents understand that that they were not there to intervene. The result of this visit was two magnificent records: one Brahms and one Bartók-Prokofiev (the sparkling Seventh Sonata!).
Claude Samuel (From the preface to the French edition of the book on Idil Biret, A Turkish Pianist in France – Buchet/Chastel 2006)
Translation from the French by Sefik B. Yuksel
Sergey Prokofiev: Piano Sonata No 7 in B flat major, Op 83
Sergey Prokofiev had been back in Russia for three years when, in 1939, he began work on his three “War” Sonatas. The second of these, the Seventh Sonata in B flat, is the most famous of the set, having acquired more prominence than its fellows when it was awarded a Stalin Prize after its premiere. It is a work of both violent and meditative episodes, in which the composer strikes a skilful balance between the anxious vitality of the first movement (which also features moments of highly lyrical, intense reflection) and the ardent supplication of the second, which begins Andante but, like the first, juxtaposes fieriness and tranquil expectation. The finale, marked Precipitato, is by contrast, a single flow of music in which Prokofiev harks back to the relentless dynamism of his Toccata, Op 2, without, however, disturbing the overall unity of the work: indeed its rhythmic elements are derived from the chromatic motifs of the opening Allegro inquieto.
Béla Bartók: Six Romanian Folk Dances • Suite, Op 14 • 6 Bulgarian Dances • Allegro barbaro
Like Prokofiev, Béla Bartók also left a wealth of piano works which were to play a fundamental part in the evolution of twentieth-century music. The Bulgarian Dances are taken from Book VI of Mikrokosmos (1926–39), a collection of 153 short pieces, based on folk music and aimed at helping students familiarise themselves with all technical aspects of modern piano-playing. The well-known Romanian Dances (1915) are similar in spirit, and have the added benefit of having been carefully chosen to form a pleasing and well-balanced cycle. The Suite, Op 14 (February 1916), meanwhile, with its traditional Italian movement titles, attempts to bring together Classical form and an early example of his “imaginary folk music”. The Allegro barbaro (dating from 1911) remains the most lyrical and compact example of this desire for synthesis.
English translation by Susannah Howe
This recording was originally released in 1962 on a French mono LP, Véga C 30 A 346
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