Schubert’s Drei Klavierstücke, D946, surely intended to be a third set of four Impromptus had not death intervened; Brahms entitled them Klavierstücke when his edition was published in 1868. Alternatively, one could see them as a three-movement sonata. Whatever your view, from the first bar Avdeeva makes you sit up and take note. Here is an artist who can truly make the piano sing – and to no greater effect than in the A flat minor Trio of No 2. In the opinion of the pianist this is ‘one of the most personal and moving statements in all classical music’. The way she plays this, you might find yourself agreeing.
The second of Prokofiev’s three ‘War Sonatas’ opens with a movement marked Allegro inquieto (‘restless’, ‘nervy’). Avdeeva sacrifices its unsettling character for beauty of tone and exemplary voicing, its spikier passages seeming almost jaunty. The central movement, with its cello-like main theme, is captivating. Where she is less than persuasive is in the finale, among the most electrifying of the genre. Precipitato Prokofiev instructs, implying danger – I think of it as someone fleeing from an implacable foe with its relentless, threatening quaver B flat/crotchet C/quaver B flat motif. Richter, who gave the first performance in 1943, is still supreme (his 1958 recording). Avdeeva gives us Prokofiev-lite, a smooth ride in a fast machine.
Disc 2 has just the 24 Preludes. There is much to commend here, not least Avdeeva’s consistently clear singing quality, a joy to hear and very well captured by Mirare in a natural acoustic. It’s a fine account but in some of the quieter Preludes (eg Nos 4 and 6) her asynchronous melody and accompaniment becomes faintly irritating. In the end others have something more personal to say, not least Cortot (1926) and the forgotten Robert Lortat, whose 1928 recording for Columbia (now on Doremi) deserves to become far better known. (Gramophone)