On a pleasant evening on the lower North Shore of Sydney in Mosman Art Gallery, I attended a piano recital given by Ukrainian-born Alexey Yemtsov.
The set-up was a little unusual in that the piano was at the back of the Grand Hall rather than on the stage so that the audience of all different age groups was facing the back wall. Alexey’s program was split into two halves, the first before interval comprising Chopin pieces, the second after interval Prokofiev.
The Fantaisie in F minor Op 49 provided a carefree start, a lovely free-flowing piece with an excellent dynamic range. It was a considered and controlled interpretation that involved good use of pedalling, particularly in the rushing downward passages. I found the next piece on the program, Ballade No 3 in A flat major Op 47, somewhat restrained in pace and the presentation of the main melodic line too deliberate. The rhythmic changes also seemed to be rather unbalanced.
Next up was Waltz in A flat Op 42 which was well-played with the different dance-like rhythms in each hand combined harmoniously! Chopin’s fourth and last Ballade in F minor Op 52 displayed Alexey’s fine technique and musicality. His expression and phrasing produced a most appropriate reflective mood full of emotion.
A lovely afternoon tea was on offer during interval.
Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet “Before Parting” Op 75 No 10 was played with great insight into the world of Shakespeare’s theatre.
The most substantial and best work in the program was left until last. Prokofiev’s Sonata No 6 Op 82 was the first of his three War Sonatas, traditional in structure but unconventional within each movement. The first movement Allegro moderato immediately set up the stark reality of war, the second movement Allegretto reinforced the unsettling nature of war, the third movement Tempo di valzer lentissimo was full of loud foreboding chords contrasted with deft melancholic touch, while the fourth and last movement Vivace provided a fitting climax with explosive energy, flashy fingering, and total drama.
After much applause from the appreciative audience, we were treated to a gentle encore to calm the nerves and soothe the soul after the angst of Prokofiev’s War Sonata. It came in the form of Rachmaninov’s Prelude in G Op 32 No 5.