From Russia With Ludwig (And Oleg)

Review by: Jed Distler

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Artistic Quality: 7

Sound Quality: 9

Blind since birth, the 30-year-old Russian pianist Oleg Akkuratov has garnered a multi-faceted reputation for keyboard prowess in both jazz and classical circles. Considering that a gazillion pianists have essayed Beethoven’s three main “name” sonatas on disc, it says a lot that Akkuratov’s solid technique and tasteful musicianship hold their own. You won’t find unusual details, fresh insights, or a particularly personal voice, but you do get decent and forthright and well-recorded performances, featuring centrist tempos that are not too fast or slow. What you don’t get, however, is the last word in polyphonic awareness, nor the feeling for inflection that illuminates the music’s inner strife and dramatic mood shifts.

Part of this may be attributed to Akkuratov focusing his attention on the right hand. For example, in the Moonlight’s Presto agitato, the rapid ascending right-hand arpeggios dominate while the broken left-hand octaves retire to the background. Akkuratov also underplays the dissonant clashes in the Appassionata Andante con moto’s first variation. The Pathétique Andante cantabile also comes off a shade square and matter-of-fact. Nor does Akkuratov achieve a true pianissimo, although his basic sonority is full-bodied, focused, and perfectly agreeable. Melodiya’s biographical notes concerning Akkuratov border on hagiography.



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: This grouping: Rudolf Serkin (Sony); Yundi (DG), Op. 13: Richard Goode (Nonesuch), Op. 27 No. 2: Stewart Goodyear (Marquis), Op. 57: Sviatoslav Richter (RCA)

  • BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN:
    Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor Op. 13 “(“Pathétique”); Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor Op. 27 No. 2 (“Moonlight”); Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor Op. 57 (“Appassionata”)
  • Oleg Akkuratov (piano)

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