SHOSTAKOVICH & BRIDGEPiano Sonatas
Frank Bridge, Dmitri Shostakovich
SALLY PINKAS, piano
"The piano sonatas of Bridge and Shostakovich are respectively dedicated to friends lost in war, make memorable use of waltz and march forms... They make for a substantial and enjoyable pairing. Listeners...will encounter a virtuoso who draws attention to the music first and foremost. Bridge's gritty, harmonically gnarly and orchestrally evocatibe piano sonata requires nothing less than so fervently committed a musician as Sally Pinkas. [She] provides informative and well-written booklet annotations."
Jed Distler, Gramophone [February 2022]
"Kudos to Pinkas for the efforts required for this very serious piece of music [by Frank Bridge]. She makes it all hang together and deals with the gigantic climaxes in I and III with supreme musicality and without any harshness... Her sensitivity to the melody over soft chords is remarkable... [For the Shostakovich] I am partial to the 1965 Gilels concert recording of this work (Melodiya). I also like Ashkenazy’s studio one from 2003 (Decca). Pinkas exhibits the same power and poetry as those two great artists. The sound and booklet essay (by the pianist) are top-notch and make this disc quite memorable. It will be one of my reference recordings."
Harrington, American Record Guide [January/February 2022]
"Well-conveyed emotion is the central point of an MSR Classics CD featuring keyboard works that are clearly intended to explore the full capabilities of the piano. Sally Pinkas is an ardent and strongly involved performer of these sonatas... Pinkas gives both pieces a fresh look (and fresh sound) that will engage even listeners who already know them well. Her care with the clarity of left and right hand in the first movement of the Shostakovich, for example, is managed with exceptional precision... This CD is noteworthy for the excellence of Pinkas’ playing and the nuances of her interpretations."
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [January 2022]
"Two challenging 20th century pieces...have been expertly performed by Sally Pinkas for this MSR Classics CD... "Despite [the repertoire's] apparent complexity, Pinkas performs both sonatas skillfully to produce a very fine listening experience... [After listening to the Bridge] several times, I grew to appreciate what he was saying in sound with Pinkas as my medium."
Joel C. Thompson, Cherry Grove Music Review [December 2021]
"[4-1/2 Stars] Sometimes the key to a memorable recital is experiencing two pieces that achieve a surprising but utterly persuasive complementarity. This was my experience with a recent release on the MSR label of two big 20th century piano sonatas... Israeli pianist Sally Pinkas makes an exceptionally good account of this piece. So confident is Ms Pinkas’ reading of this piece that I wasn’t afraid to put it up against a very high measure for comparison, the 2004 Decca recording by Vladimir Ashkenazy. That performance lacks for nothing in terms of expression, but it casts no shadow on this newer recording which features a drier acoustic, less pedal and more sharply articulated lines... One can only be grateful to the excellent team that put this recording together and especially for the outstanding work of pianist Sally Pinkas."
Fritz Balwit, Audiophile Audition [December 2021]
[5 stars]: Superb performances of technically and emotionally challenging piano sonatas. "This is a boldly conceived and superbly executed program... Pianist Sally Pinkas is a superb advocate for both of these challenging works. She plays throughout with decided technical mastery. The textures are remarkably clear and deftly balanced, even in the most demanding passages. Pinkas is able to invoke a broad range of colors and modes of articulation, a decided asset in music of such emotional depth. I also greatly admire Pinkas’s keen sense of pacing... Thanks to Pinkas’s probing, expressive, and superbly played performances, this is a disc that engages from start to finish. This recital may not be easy listening, but it most certainly is rewarding. Enthusiastically recommended."
Ken Meltzer, Fanfare [November/December 2021]
[5 stars]: Superb readings of two masterpieces. "This imaginative recital couples two hefty piano sonatas from the first half of the 20th century, similar enough in their inspiration to give the disc some unity (they’re both responses to the devastation of war), but different enough in their idiom to give it variety.... Peter Burwasser praised Pinkas’s 'superb precision and insight' — and those virtues are acclaimed, if not necessarily in those words, in numerous other notices as well. They’re clearly in evidence here, too. It’s hard to provide such consistent attention to detail (especially dynamic and textural detail) without turning fussy—but Pinkas’s concentration pays off in emotional impact. Her insight informs the full range of the music’s expressive spectrum... Rarely do the quietest sections of the Shostakovich have quite the frisson they do here; rarely, in contrast, do the thunderbolts in the finale of Bridge have this kind of bold power. Both works, in their individual ways, have their bursts of obsession; in Pinkas’s hands, however, the music never seems redundant. Both works, in their individual ways, nearly break into tears; in Pinkas’s hands, however, the rhetoric never seems forced. Both works have their technical challenges, especially the Bridge—but there’s not a touch of strain anywhere in the recital. Excellent sound and first-rate notes only add to the value of the disc. Heartily recommended."
Peter J. Rabinowitz, Fanfare [November/December 2021]
[5 stars]: Uncommon pairing with revelatory results. "Sally Pinkas is a prolific, experienced artist... Her technical strong points are her splendid pearly articulation, her quicksilver agility, and her ability to maintain clarity among multiple competing lines in thickly orchestrated passages. Her finest interpretative strong point is her ability to sustain an ongoing mood while simultaneously providing localized moments of contrasting color. She is very much attuned to the architecture of her repertoire and is highly adept at conveying it to her audience. This is an illuminating program, and Pinkas’s playing on it is superb. It should be a priority acquisition."
Myron Silberstein, Fanfare [November/December 2021]
PROGRAM NOTESThe piano sonatas of Dmitri Shostakovich and Frank Bridge were created while the world was in turmoil.
After his evacuation from besieged Leningrad, Shostakovich seemed to be holding on to sanity through frenzied composing. He wrote his Piano Sonata quickly between the 7th and the 8th Symphonies, and premiered it himself in Moscow soon thereafter. In the late 1930s his avantgarde music had met with Stalinist disapproval, but by 1943 the Sonata’s Neo-classical clarity was beyond reproach. 20 years earlier Bridge was grappling with a changing world and growing dis-satisfied with his pleasing late-Romantic style. In the aftermath of the First World War he spent three years completing only one work, his Piano Sonata. It was premiered in London in 1925 by Dame Myra Hess. Passionate and complex, Bridge’s new music estranged him from both the onceadoring public and the musical establishment. There was no direct connection between Shostakovich and Bridge. In the 1960s Shostakovich met composer Benjamin Britten and the two remained life-long friends. Through this friendship Shostakovich may have come to know of Bridge, who was Britten’s composition teacher and mentor. In spite of their different circumstances, the two Sonatas comprising this album share their creators’ masterful handling of form and texture, and use of the iconographic Waltz and March. While both Shostakovich and Bridge composed other pieces which dealt more explicitly with loss, their Piano Sonatas, inscribed to the memory of friends lost to war, offer somber reflections on troubling times.
Following her London debut at Wigmore Hall, Israeli-born pianist Sally Pinkas has garnered universal acclaim for her performances as soloist and chamber musician. Among highlights are performances with the Boston Pops, the Aspen Philharmonia and New York’s Jupiter Symphony, at the festivals of Marlboro, Tanglewood and Rockport in the United States, Pontlevoy in France, Havana in Cuba and Ho Chi Minh Music Conservatory in Vietnam. From a first performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto in Bandung, Indonesia, to premieres of George Rochberg’s monumental Circles of Fire for two pianos in Russia and Nigeria, and a revival of rarely heard 19th-century Filipino Salon Music in its birth city Manila, Pinkas commands a wide repertoire and shares it enthusiastically with young pianists through master classes and workshops. Praised for her radiant tone and driving energy, Pinkas’ extensive discography includes music by Mozart, Schumann, Fauré, Debussy, Gaubert, Martinu, Rochberg, Shapero, Pinkham and Wolff for the MSR Classics, Musica Omnia, Centaur, Naxos, Toccata Classics, Arsis and Mode labels. She tours regularly with the Hirsch-Pinkas Duo (a collaboration with her husband pianist Evan Hirsch), with Ensemble Schumann and with the Adaskin String Trio. Other collaborators include the Apple Hill Quartet, Cuarteto Latinoamericano and the UK’s Villiers Quartet. Most recently she made her solo debut in Spain, returned to Brazil with the Hirsch-Pinkas Duo and to China on an extensive tour with Ensemble Schumann. Pinkas holds performance degrees from Indiana University and the New England Conservatory of Music, and a Doctorate in Composition from Brandeis University. Her piano teachers were Russell Sherman, George Sebok, Luise Vosgerchian, Ilona Vincze-Krausz and Genia Bar-Niv. She also studied composition under Sergiu Natra and chamber music under Robert Koff. Pianist-in-residence at the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth College, Pinkas is Professor of Music at Dartmouth’s Music Department. [ www.sallypinkas.org ]
PROGRAMDMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
PIANO SONATA NO.2 IN B MINOR, OP.61 (1943)
III. Moderato (con moto)
FRANK BRIDGE (1879-1941)
PIANO SONATA, H.160 (1921-1924)
I. Lento ma non troppo – Andante ben moderato – Allegro energico
II. Andante ben moderato
III. Lento – Allegro non troppo
Recorded 2 June 2020 [1-3] and 12 January 2021 [4-6] at the Fraser Performance Studio, WGBH Radio, Boston, Massachusetts. Produced and engineered by Antonio Oliart Ros. Edited and mastered by Evan Hirsch.