Another young pianist makes a splash with a well-structured and scintillatingly played program. Only 21, Tashkent native Abduraimov won the 2009 London International Piano Competition, and toured Australia earlier this year.
If Europe is trying to wrest the piano wunderkind crown back from China, then Abduraimov is definitely the real thing. He takes on the titans in the very first track: Horowitz’s elaboration on Liszt’s piano reduction of Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre.
With old-school aplomb Abduraimov produces sparklingly even scale passages, quick clean staccato and over-the-top rubato. Here and there I feel a sense of control being carefully maintained – Horowitz and Earl Wild made pieces like this sound effortless – but what control this young pianist has!
Prokofiev’s Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Piano Sonatas were composed in the wake of WWII, and are often called the composer’s war trilogy. They not only form the peak of Prokofiev’s keyboard output, but one of the peaks of 20th-century piano music.
Abduraimov toughens his touch in the first movement of the Sixth to conjure up a steely militarism that is frighteningly appropriate. In the pungent slow movement he maps out the dramatic landscape with care and sensitivity, while the Scherzo is suitably light-fingered.
This pianist’s Liszt is similarly impressive, with genuine repose achieved in the inward-looking moments of the Bénédiction, No 3 of Liszt’s Harmonies poétiques et religieuses.
For the Mephisto Waltz No 1 we are back to diabolic virtuosity; a spine-tingling conclusion to a memorable CD recital.