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War Sonatas

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Product Details

  • Performer: Boris Giltburg
  • Composer: Prokofiev Sergey
  • Audio CD (Sept. 25 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Om
  • ASIN: B008P76Y46
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #81,820 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Prokofiev's challenging "War Sonatas," the name given to the Piano Sonatas Nos. 6, 7, &8, are deftly and smoothly performed here by rising star Boris Giltburg. Giltburg, winner of the Pinan Salzman Prize, Santander Competition, and Rubenstein Competition, is a formidable talent who has been described as "old-school but magical and quite ravishing." He also been famously compared to past masters like Richter and Rachmaninov.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa43c8858) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa43ea324) out of 5 stars eyebrow-raising pianism Dec 31 2012
By Bruce A. Mcdonald - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Boris Giltburg is an Israel-based pianist who was new to this reviewer--but this recording is an eye-opener as well as an eyebrow-raiser. The man has all the technique needed for the Russian composer's difficult sonatas, but even more important, he has the musicality required to keep these pieces from being merely bombastic. His own program notes show him to be a thoughtful musician, and I found his performance of #6,in particular, to be the most effective musically that I have heard. He gives high praise to #8, which he thinks is probably Prokofiev's greatest, and he makes a strong argument for his position in his fine playing of it. And, lest anyone think that Giltburg doesn't have the requisite technique, listen to his playing of the wild 7/8 finale to the 7th sonata. He takes it at a ferocious pace, but his accuracy is quite incredible! If you're interested in good Prokofiev playing, get this disc!
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa43ea570) out of 5 stars Superb Prokofiev! Dec 25 2012
By Hannibal - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This are superb performances of Prokofiev's best piano sonatas. While I assume most who love this music will regard Sviatoslav Richter's interpretations as unequaled up to now (as I still do), there can be no doubt that Giltburg's approach is no less valid, even if it is somewhat more reflective and less visceral than the approach we have been used to, given Prokofiev's own style at the time of composition. Then too partially responsible for these feelings may be that Giltburg's piano benefits from a far better recording quality than Richter for example received back in 1959 and 1961.

Whatever the reasons, Giltburg offers a musical feast of great piano playing, and if you love these works, do hear this wonderful disc. You may well even prefer it to the Richter classic renditions.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
By RBSProds - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
These are outstanding, inspired performances of the challenging, emotional Sergei Prokofiev (so-called) "War Sonatas" by the multiple award-winning Russian piano virtuoso Boris Giltburg. Prokofiev's vivid expositions illuminate the vicissitudes of war as it affected Europe and more specifically the Russian country and people during World War II, prior to and during Hitler's invasion of Russia. Prokofiev and other important persons were even relocated twice by the government to safe havens as he was finishing these sonatas, originally conceptualized in 1939, and other famous works under the cloud of war. These works captivated and were premiered by two of the greatest pianists of the 20th Century: Sviatoslav Richter, who did the first two sonatas, and the third by Emil Gilels. Sometimes militaristic and aggressive, sometimes gentle and reflective, but always virtuosic, Giltburg masterfully brings out the best of Piano Sonata No. 6 in A major, Opus 82 which sets the stage in the Allegro moderato movement with marching cadences, war sequences with "col pugno" elements (striking the keys with a fist) like exploding bombs and ringing arpeggios like firing weapons, giving way to the Allegretto movement which has a beautiful theme fragmented using staccato. Piano Sonata No. 7 in B♭major, Op. 83 has Giltburg giving a glorious account of the rapid tempo and arpeggios of the Vivace movement with its war references and periods of calm, with allusions tied back to the Sonata No. 6 military theme. Likewise for the triple notational Allegro inquieto - Poco meno - Andantino movement. Giltburg's performance of Piano Sonata No. 8 Piano in B♭major, Op. 84, dedicated to Prokofiev's future wife, Mira Mendelson, begins gently & beautifully in the "Andante dolce", and alternates between turbulence & intensity and beauty. There is great charm in the theme song of the lovely prelude-like Andante sognando movement. The famed virtuosic Vivace - Allegro ben marcato - Andantino - Vivace, come prima movement returns to the rolling martial themes, melancholy, with periods of gentle reflection vividly brought to life by Giltburg's remarkable pianistic prowess. Outstanding performances by Boris Giltburg of 3 major Sergei Prokofiev "War Sonatas", tied forever to the upheavals of Prokofiev's life and to the circumstances of World War II. My Highest Recommendation. Five AMAZING Stars! (10 tracks; Time: 72 minutes: 31 seconds)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa43eaa2c) out of 5 stars Boris Giltburg joins the upper echelon of pianists who perform the War Sonatas June 4 2013
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Boris Giltburg was born in Moscow in 1984 and now lives in Israel. He won the second prize (top prize awarded) of the 2002 Paloma O'Shea International Piano Competition in Spain, where he performed Bartok's Third Piano Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra. Since then Boris has performed with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Israel Philharmonic with conductors such as Philippe Entremont, Christoph von Dohnányi, Mikhail Pletnev and Marin Alsop. On 2 June 2013 he won the international piano competition Queen Elisabeth in Brussels.

He seems to have it all - leading man good looks, extraordinary facility in rapid passagework, and an intuitive poetic sense of line. Here he performs deeply moving accounts of Prokofiev's Piano Sonatas 6, 7, 8 - the so-called War Sonatas. The focal sonata of Prokofiev's wartime triptych is the Seventh, completed in 1942, a year after the Soviet Union entered the conflict. But images of war, its destructive power and the feelings of apprehension and introspect

As one critic praises, Giltburg plays with `terrific panache and personality, digging deep into the fabric of the music to illuminate its emotional content and harnessing an authoritative bravura to underline the savagery and nervy energy that the scores often convey. He has the confidence and facility of technique to tackle some movements at intrepid speed: the inexorable propulsion of the second movement of the Sixth Sonata is taken at a true allegretto rather than the andante that its textural complexities sometimes impose, and the finale of the Seventh Sonata starts -- and moreover maintains -- a terrifying impetus in response to Prokofiev's precipitato marking. If you can do it at this speed, while still ensuring that all the cross-keyboard leaps and offbeat accents are firmly in place, why not? But this is only part of Giltburg's skill in these sonatas, for he also has the measure of Prokofiev's dark-hued, haunted melody and the details of dissonance that can shatter an ostensible idyll. These are powerful, intuitive performances, executed with stylistic understanding and arresting presence.'

There is a grace in Giltburg's laying that echoes the full symphonic ballet scores of Prokofiev, as though he is able to transport these tight sonatas into a much more grand form that simply keyboard presentations. There is sorcery here but there is also dreamy magic that makes his interpretations soar. Repeated listenings only reinforce the substantial artistry of this gifted pianist. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, June 13
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa43ea8c4) out of 5 stars Giltburg Joins Richter and Gilels in These Sonatas May 22 2013
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
There have already been three reviews here that laud these performances of Prokofiev's 'War Sonatas', Nos. 6, 7 & 8. I want to add my praise. With the minor exception of what I consider to be a rather too fast tempo in the finale of the 7th, one that somewhat smudges the alternating chords, these are examplary performances. (For what it's worth, the pianist writes in his notes that he consciously takes a wild tempo here rather than the somewhat more moderate tempo taken by the sonata's dedicatee, Sviatoslav Richter.) Giltburg manages to convey the ferocity, dread, veiled sarcasm, and tenderness of these heartfelt works, written by Prokofiev at a time when Russian artists were experiencing brutal repression by Stalin's cultural police. The 7th, in fact, was almost certainly written in reponse to the arrest and exile and ultimately murder of his close friend, the theatrical director Vsevelod Meyerhold and his wife.

Sound is absolutely first-rate and this helps make this a stunning listening experience.

Scott Morrison

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