BBC Music Magazine. Sauer Vol.4

April 2001


Piano Sonata n.2 in E flat, etc.
Oleg Marshev (piano) / Danacord DACOCD 534 / 67:11 DDD

Oleg Marshev has recorded four CDs of Emil von Sauer’s piano music and listening to them is certainly an interesting experience. First, Sauer, a virtuoso pianist who studied with Nicolai Rubinstein and briefly with Liszt, has a legendary status in pianistic circles. He composed a considerable quantity of music which was published between 1895 and 1930, including two sonatas, two concertos, two suites, 29 concert etudes and a large assortment of salon works, which are bound to hold some interest for specialists. Next, Marshev is a truly marvellous pianist. His tone is luminous and full, without a hint of heaviness; he plays the Serenades on this disc with a beautiful sense of rhapsodic freedom; and he presents all the music with lightness, vigour, wit, grace, tenderness and effortless virtuosity. To hear the best moments of this CD, try the delicate Gavotte et musette, the Serenata veneziana — gloriously phrased by Marshev — and the Second Sonata’s slow movement, punctuated with gentle treble arabesques as if by a nocturnal bird. But unfortunately, there is not much music beyond these that is memorable for its own merits rather than its performance. These piano pieces seem doomed to remain curious: entiching for piano enthusiasts and seekers of rare repertoire, but probably few others.


Jessica Duchen