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David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2016

Not numbered in order of composition, this sixth volume in the complete keyboard sonatas of Antonio Soler, brings together the first four in a group of six dated 1777. It continues on from the previous series release where we found Soler writing scores of substantial length and in three movements. They also came from a time when he was aware of the weight and scope offered by the newly created five octave harpsichord—the Sixty-fifth (my favourite score)—together with the speed of action of the instrument which tempted him to liberally sprinkle the four works with trills. That does rather undermine performances on the modern concert grand piano, where the crispness you expect from the harpsichord is lost. The Ukrainian-born American pianist, Stanislav Khristenko, is well aware of that difference in quality, and is sparing in his use of a sustaining pedal. He equally plays with the restricted dynamic range of an early keyboard, only getting carried away in the Sixty-sixth when things get rather overheated. I guess this recording is the first time he will have performed the works, yet he has instinctively captured the flow and pace of the music. I particularly enjoy the clean dexterity of fingers in fast movements, while he has side-stepped the modern piano’s ability to meet Soler’s ‘cantabile’ direction that would not have been possible when the sonatas were composed. Three major competition awards in 2013, included fourth prize in Belgium’s prestigious Queen Elizabeth International Competition, and first prizes in Cleveland and Barcelona, has propelled his career on the international stage with appearances in major venues on both sides of the Atlantic. As a Steinway Artist, he is no stranger to the recording studio, these 2015 sessions apparently taking place in a large auditorium with a reverberation to match. © 2016 David’s Review Corner

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