Alissa Firsova, Russian Émigrés - Album review

Download: Variations on a Theme of Corelli; Sonata No. 2; For Alissa

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The Independent Culture

Rachmaninov’s exile from Russia in 1917 was followed some six decades later by the blacklisting (and eventual exile) of Elena Firsova and Dmitri Smirnov, whose gifted daughter Alissa  here performs material by all three composers, along with  her own “Lune Rouge”.

She chooses the rarely heard original 1913 version of Rachmaninov’s Sonata No 2, seven minutes longer and more involved than the revised version. Despite the haunting power of the themes involved, Firsova brings a furtive, playful charm quite unexpected  in Rachmaninov as she pursues the manifold diversions of his “Corelli Variations”.

Dedicated  to the pianist herself, her mother’s “For Alissa” has a speculative, mysterious quality akin to that of her contemporary (and fellow blacklistee) Sofia Gubaidulina, while her father’s “Blake Sonata” employs myriad strategies to evoke the poet’s “The Tyger”.