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Prokofiev: Piano Sonatas 2 & 3 / Rachmaninov: Moments musicaux - Häring

Prokofiev: Piano Sonatas 2 & 3 / Rachmaninov: Moments musicaux - Häring

Ars Produktion  381 51

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Instrumental


Prokofiev: Piano Sonatas 2 in D minor, Op. 14 & 3 in A minor, Op. 28
Rachmaninov: Moments musicaux, Op. 18
Kapustin: Prelude, Reverie, Toccatina & Raillery from 8 Konzertetüden

Mario Häring (piano)

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Review by Adrian Quanjer - September 1, 2016

I must admit that there are more pianists whom I don’t know than I do. This often leads to pleasant surprises, like Danae Dörken Schumann: Fantasy / Schubert: Wanderer Fantasy - Dörken. And here is another one: Mario Häring. This is his debut CD in Super Audio for which he has chosen, under the title ‘Russian Moments,’ an interesting programme of Eastern-European composers, old and new. The ever popular Six Moment Musicaux Op. 16 of Rachmaninov, two sonatas (No.2 and the lesser known No.3) of Prokofiev [there is a small mistake in the liner notes: track 11 should read ‘Sonata No. 3 in A minor Op. 28], and four of the Eight Concert Etudes Op. 40 of Nikolai Kapustin, who, born in Ukraine, is not really Russian. His’ is a case of crossover between classic and Jazz and it will not surprise that since the 1950’s he has become a jazz pianist of renown.

I played the 6 musical moments to people without telling them who the pianist was. They were just as pleasantly surprised as I was, thinking that it must have been someone like Vladimir Ashkenazy, the only contender in the field of high-res, whose toucher is also more on the poetical side. In direct comparison there are, of course, some differences. Häring’s playing is on the whole a shade faster, as one might expect from someone of his age. Ashkenazy is more mature, but also more routine. What I specifically liked is Häring’s flexibility, combining strength in the faster with dreaminess in the slower moments. While Nikolai Luganski (RBCD, Erato, 2001) remains my first choice, I found Häring most convincing in his reading of the Moments Musicaux.

Prokofiev’s second piano sonata figures prominently in the repertoire of many a top rated pianist. However, in direct comparison with two winners of two of the most prestigious piano contests: Leeds (Freddy Kempf, BIS, 2010) and Tchaikovsky/Moscow (Barry Douglas, RBCD, RCA, 1991) Häring’s star did not really pale. As a matter of fact I preferred his Scherzo Allegro marcato over that of Kempf. I have no recording of the third sonata at my disposal, but it may already be clear that we have here a gifted talent whose ‘Russians’ can compete with the best.

As for the four study pieces of Kapustin: This is sheer delight. Food for jazz pianists who want to practice and improve. One might say that Kapustin is a composer of classical jazz; a sort of crossover in optima forma. And Mario brings it as though he does it for pleasure and distraction. And that may well have been the case. He is in good company with such pianists as Marc-Andre Hamelin, who has done the same.

Apart from the Jazz and the only Prokofiev 3rd in the catalogue, Häring has the additional advantage of a first rate recording. The sound is so real that one hears from time to time some pedal noise, which earphone only listeners may not like, but which in a roomier acoustical environment only adds to a feeling of being present at the real thing.

Blangy-le-Château
Normandy, France

Copyright © 2016 Adrian Quanjer and HRAudio.net

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