Vyacheslav Gryaznov: Russian Transcriptions
The art of the piano transcription is alive and kicking – or, more accurately, alive and singing in the hands Vyacheslav Gryaznov, whose solo CD debut for Steinway & Sons showcases the 36 year-old pianist-composer’s considerable abilities in this genre. The Notturno from Borodin’s Second String Quartet loses nothing in translation via Gryaznov’s acute ear for timbre and registration, and actually gains something once the piano’s full range opens up. Conversely, Gryaznov overloads Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers with fussy caesuras, tenutos and ritardandos that defuse the music’s soaring momentum.
He paints Rachmaninov’s ‘How fair this spot’ with angular brushstrokes and dark oils that radically contrast with Earl Wild’s shimmering treble-orientated pastels. Likewise, his treatment of the ubiquitous ‘Vocalise’ stands its linear ground throughout, eschewing the bubbly arpeggiation that Zoltán Kocsis tacks on to the final section. At first I suspected an extra pair of hands had joined in to help keep the Italian Polka’s swirling figurations and leaping octave melodies in clean perspective. Wishful thinking!
On the Dnieper may be Prokofiev’s least performed ballet. The six movements that Gryaznov presents benefit from his creative liberties and fleshing-out of textures with convincing inner voices, fresh changes of register and stronger dynamic profile. As such, the concluding Variation, Finale and Coda emerges as more of a virtuoso tour de force and exciting stage presentation than what transpires in Prokofiev’s original text.
Lastly, Gryaznov transforms Glinka’s Valse-fantaisie from an elegant, unprepossessing and sometimes rambling salon piece into a cannily crafted concert-hall showpiece, where the melodies soar to orchestral effect, yet the pianist retains top billing. That’s the nature of the genre, and Gryaznov understands this. Moreover, Gryaznov’s transcriptions are tailored to yet not limited by his pianistic strengths. Recommended.