Prokofiev: Piano Sonatas 6-8
Denis Kozhukhin Onyx ONYX 4111****
As you might expect of the winner of the 2010 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, Russian pianist Denis Kozhukhin shows power and technique to spare in the three piano sonatas Prokofiev wrote between 1939 and 1944. The pianists who gave the works’ first public performances, Victor Merzhanov, Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels, all went on to record the pieces they premièred. Kozhukhin may not show quite the tightness of Richter in the Seventh Sonata nor the expansiveness of Gilels in the opening movement of the Eighth. But his biggest divergence with the works’ early interpreters is his preoccupation with line harmony, often bringing effects of angularity and fracture to the music. He reads more into the war-time genesis of the music than the men who lived through that war.