Vladimir Sofronitsky was among the greatest Russian pianists of the twentieth century, and, while he had become a somewhat less prominent figure following his death, he must be still considered in the company of Richter, Gilels, and Yudina. In his time, Sofronitsky became widely recognized as the leading interpreter of and authority on the music of Scriabin in Eastern Europe. He was also highly praised for his interpretations of the piano works of Robert Schumann and he was a highly respected teacher.
On his first solo recital disc for Chandos, Philip Edward Fisher performs piano works by members of the so-called ‘Mighty Handful’, a group of five Russian composers – César Cui, Alexander Borodin, Mily Balakirev, Modest Mussorgsky, and Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov – who in the 1860s banded together in an attempt to create a truly national school of Russian music, free of the perceived stiffling influences of Italian opera, German lieder, and other western European forms.
This set of Beethoven string quartets by the Borodin Quartet reflects a mature perspective on the works. It's not that it lacks energy the Vivaces are vivacious and the Allegros have plenty of brio but it has wisdom and a maturity not generally characteristic of performances by younger quartets. These performances are comparable with the Budapest Quartet's last set of the quartets.
The Borodin Trio's recording of Mendelssohn's two piano trios was first released in 1985 and reissued in 2009, in time for the Mendelssohn bicentennial. The performances may not be as warmly opulent as fans of the group might like. Fans used to their big-vibrato, heart-on-the-sleeve approach to the trios of Schubert and Brahms could miss the Trio's usual ultra-lush ensemble and super-heated sonority.