Lawrence Power makes the second of his appearances in this month’s release lists, this time with his regular pianist partner Simon Crawford-Phillips in the chamber music of Shostakovich. The centrepiece is the Viola Sonata, Shostakovich’s last completed work, premiered posthumously, on what would have been the composer’s sixty-ninth birthday. Its ravishing slow finale reworks the opening of Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata—a tribute to a composer he revered.
Shostakovich the film composer also takes a bow, in the form of The Gadfly, with its famous ‘Romance’ beloved of violinists everywhere. That this works just as compellingly on the viola is triumphantly displayed in the arrangement made by Vadim Borisovsky (founding violist of the Beethoven Quartet), one of the Five Pieces he recast from Shostakovich’s original.
Shostakovich’s 24 Piano Preludes have also proved irresistible to transcribers and here we have the seven brilliantly reworked by a pupil of Borisovsky, Yevgeny Strakhov.
Lawrence Power and Simon Crawford-Phillips find a much greater variety of resonances in the score than is often the case. They embark on a musical narrative of epic proportions...For the most part, however, Power and Crawford-Phillips place most emphasis on the more grotesque elements of the writing, as if to suggest the composer recapturing the energetic satirical style of his earlier career. BBC ****
Power's performance is particularly engaging in the witty, sardonic middle movement...if not the very last word on the Sonata, this is still a finely played programme that can be recommended with confidence. Gramophone
Such is the extraordinary nature of this sonata that it does not respond to any kind of superficial treatment, and Power's performance is, on balance, the most penetrating I have heard...in the Op. 147 Sonata Power is to be preferred above his rivals: there is an 'inner' feeling to his playing (and to that of his partner) which his competitors do not quite equal. Int. Record Review