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Volume 2 of Alexander Melnikov’s Prokofiev sonata cycle consists of Nos 4, 7 and 9, with 1, 2 and 5 still to come. Intent on modifying the composer’s sardonic nature, he gives us Prokofiev with a human face, less armed with a porcupine’s quills and spines. You won’t hear Richter’s remorseless drive in the Fourth Sonata’s finale, with its strained gaiety and abandon, and you miss the dark and heavy tread in the Andante assai. There is a softening of impact, too, in the Seventh Sonata’s finale, Melnikov insufficiently menacing in his refusal to treat it as a virtuoso vehicle.

Greater success comes in the Ninth Sonata. by its whimsy and caprice), Melnikov is deft in the abrupt scales of the Allegro strepitoso and sinks gratefully into temporary repose in the Andante tranquillo. These are personal and affecting readings, though with too little sense in No 7 (the second of the so-called War Sonatas) of, in Richter’s words, a world shorn of reason and equilibrium.

BRYCE MORRISON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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