Olli Mustonen – Rachmaninov: Piano Sonata No. 1; Tchaikovsky: The Seasons (2006) [HighResAudio FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

Sergei Rachmaninov – Piano Sonata No. 1 / Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky – The Seasons – Olli Mustonen (2006)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:11:10 minutes | 1,22 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download  – Source: highresaudio.com | Booklet, Front Cover | © Ondine Oy, Helsinki
Recorded: 11/2005, Sellosali, Espoo, Finland

Mustonen’s fourth solo piano album for Ondine, faithfully rendering his glittering piano sound and technique in SACD quality. It features Rachmaninov’s seldom-performed first Piano Sonata, coupled with Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons, a popular cycle of twelve intimate miniatures. Olli Mustonen, praised by The Sunday Times as “a living dream of pianism, having broken through an expressive barrier that other players do not know exists”, is known for delivering a fresh and visionary approach to standard repertoire.

It is pleasing to see the First Piano Sonata of Rachmaninov on a new album, and particularly on SACD. Although not nearly as widely performed as the more popular Second Sonata, this sometimes ambling early work is nonetheless worthy of performance. The piece was originally conceived as a programmatic work around Faust, but Rachmaninov later dropped this reference; perhaps keeping it would have provided slightly more guidance to listeners, however. The Tchaikovsky Seasons, Op. 37b, is another infrequently recorded gift to listeners. Written as a serial offering, each of the miniatures was truly written in the month that bares its name.
Pianist Olli Mustonen is a masterful performer whose interpretation of the Rachmaninov First Sonata does a great deal to delineate different sections and ideas, thereby providing listeners with a more cohesive and easy-to-follow performance than is typically heard. The multichannel mode of this recording truly surrounds the listener with the sound, making for an enjoyable, concert-like experience. Mustonen’s technique is quite plentiful, although his approach to some of the more forceful sections (especially in the third movement) are a little soft and may leave you wishing for a little more of the angularity with which Ashkenazy approached this sonata. Mustonen’s Tchaikovsky is the most convincing and enjoyable recording of this work to memory. His interpretation makes each of the miniatures quite evocative of its program. This album is worthwhile for the Tchaikovsky alone. –AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell


Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
Piano Sonata No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 28
1. I. Allegro moderato 12:37
2. II. Lento 08:52
3. III. Allegro molto 13:46

Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Les Saisons (The Seasons), Op. 37b
4. I. January: By the Fireside 04:28
5. II. February: Carnival 02:46
6. III. March: Song of the Lark 02:20
7. IV. April: Snowdrop 02:35
8. V. May: May Nights 03:25
9. VI. June: Barcarolle 03:01
10. VII. July: Song of the Reaper 01:37
11. VIII. August: The Harvest 02:52
12. IX. September: The Hunt 02:35
13. X. October: Autumn Song 03:53
14. XI. November: Troika 02:52
15. XII. December: Christmas 03:31

Olli Mustonen, piano