Composers: Tchaikovsky
Compositions: Solo Piano Works
Performers: Peter Donohoe p
Catalogue Number: Signum Classics SIGCD594 (2CD)

Nearly four decades after finding fame in Moscow at the 1982 International Tchaikovsky Competition with a thunderously poetic account of the composer’s Third Piano Concerto, Peter Donohoe returns to the Russian master with a two-disc survey of his solo works for the instrument. Donohoe has been enjoying something of an Indian summer in recent years with searing Shostakovich on Signum Classics and a striking compendium of Stravinsky’s solo piano music and admired accounts of the complete piano sonatas of Prokofiev and Scriabin on SOMM Recordings. A third volume in his acclaimed Mozart sonata series on the same label is imminent.

The manifold qualities that distinguished those releases are also to the fore here, not least in Donohoe’s willingness to approach the material with an openness to, and fresh ear for, the composer’s intentions, and in the incisive clarity of his execution. Such is the persuasiveness of his poised, playful and passionate performances that it begs the question why this music isn’t heard more often. The Op. 1 Two Pieces from 1867 – a nimble, dancing Scherzo à la Russe and rippling, Ravelian Impromptu – are dispatched with a lightness of touch perfectly in keeping with their impetuous joie de vivre and unguarded naivety. The Six Pieces on a Single Theme (1873) are a superbly crafted exercise in contrasts of mood and style, Donohoe treating each on its own distinctive terms without ever indulging their virtuosic deliberateness while always elegantly maintaining the arc of the whole.

The established Second Sonata showpiece is Tchaikovsky in his tortured prime, Donohoe brilliantly capturing the emotional heft and creative conflict that seethes through every bar from the tragedy-laced opening to the effervescent finale. Delightful accounts of the early G Flat Major Capriccio and Humoresque, the late baleful, brooding Aveu Passionne and characterful Dumka complete a revealing, rewarding recital, perfectly framed by excellent engineering and production.