STRAVINSKY Complete Music for Solo Piano (Shevchenko)
The complete Stravinsky solo works are a daunting undertaking and Oxana Shevchenko, who took first prize in the 2010 Scottish International Piano Competition, acquits herself with honour. Her playing is certainly energetic enough, and technically adept. At the same time, it would be idle to pretend that she can stand up to current competition. Peter Donohoe’s recently issued survey of all the major works is superior in terms of both control and idiomatic insight, while the Guido Agosti Firebird transcription, included by Shevchenko but not by Donohoe, is far more dazzling from Alexandre Kantorow. Once upon a time the various minor pieces on the new discs would have been hard to find elsewhere; but that’s no longer the case.
Interpretatively, Shevchenko is most persuasive in the early Sonata and Scherzo; but the expressive shaping she demonstrates to good effect there is out of place in the puppet-drama of Petrushka and in the poker-faced neoclassicism of the later Sonata and the Serenade. The greatest problem, however, is with the recorded sound, which is glassy and ill-focused. No doubt the pianist could have done more than she does to accommodate to the instrument and the acoustic; but even if she had, I doubt whether she could have triumphed over such adverse conditions. Not a competitive issue, I fear.