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OLGA TVERSKAYA (fortepiano) on Opus 111
Mozart, Haydn & Schuber

Sonatas in A major D 664 & E minor D 566
Impromptus Op 90 Nos 3 in Gb & 4 in Ab
(Brodman 1823, copied Winston)
OPS 30-193

Sonata in A major D 959 and momens musicaux (Graf, c1820) OPS 30-139

Mozart violin sonatas Nos. 23, 28 & 32 with Fabio Biondi (McNulty, after Walter c1790) OPS 30-216

Haydn English & Scottish songs
with Mhairi Lawson, Rachel Podger & Oleg Kagan (Broadwood, 1816) OPS 10-008

This Russian trained pianist, who studied fortepiano at the Guildhall School of Music in London, came to my attention at Wigmore Hall in an unforgettable programme of Mozart piano concertos played on her own Brodman copy fortepiano.

Since then I have, with great difficulty and kind assistance, acquired several of Olga Tverskaya's Opus 111 CDs, regrettably,indeed scandalously, n.l.a (no longer available, as they say). The Opus 111 catalogue has, so I understand, been bought by Naive Classiques/Andante (I don't understand the complexities of this combined organisation, and the website is not easy to navigate) and Tverskaya's CDs are in my opinion so important that I am reviewing them despite their current unavailability.

The booklets are excellent for going deeply into Olga Tverskaya's philosophy, and the outcome is in each case totally convincing. Other writers make valuable contributions to the ever ongoing dialogue about performance of classical keyboard music. I have only one small caveat about these Opus 111 CDs in their original format, their unappealing cover pictures (details of Reynolds, etc), so instead of reproducing the covers I give the unfussy pictures of Olga herself!

Fabio Biondi's partnership in Mozart is ideal, and ideally balanced in these sparkling performances. The beautiful and unique Haydn solo songs, charmingly delivered, are interspersed with folk song arrangements in which Haydn was constricted by the requirement that the accompaniments be easy for amateurs. Mixing them is a good solution, but it is a pity to have Rachel Podger, one of our greatest baroque violinists, having so little to do.

I find it hard now to listen to these composers on Steinway pianos or on violins set up for modern concert conditions; they all sound like transpositions for alien instruments.

It has been a long journey to reach such an extreme position, and I have not stopped listening to famous main stream pianists, especially those like Schuchter and Andras Schiff who explore different pianos, nor do I jettison the insights that a Brendel or an Uchida can bring to the canonic classics on Steinways in large concert halls, but I find something simpler, less self conscious, about Tserveskaya's accounts.

The Schubert discs are, perhaps, her most important and to my ears were revelatory. As she writes in the booklet for OPS 30-193, my favourite of them all, played on her own Brodmann-copy fortepiano (pictured) " - - By trusting the instrument entirely and never imposing upon it, I let it tell me which tempos and dynamics are most appropriate - - the instrument itself gives vivid insight into the phrases, forms and contrasts as well as the atmospheres Schubert had in mind - - ".

I look forward to collecting Olga Tverskaya's other recordings if Naive can be persuaded to reissue them all - her Mendelssohn Songs without words and Vorisek would tempt me, also Schubert's violin sonatas with Bondi.

Extracts from Gramophone reviews:-

6 Moments musicaux,D780. Sonata for Piano No 20 ,D959.
Olga Tverskaya Opus 111 CD OPS30-139 

Recent issues show pianists searching for the instrument best suited to Schubert's characteristic musical language and subtly coloured harmonic vocabulary. - - Tverskaya here plays a c 1825 Graf fortepiano, offering persuasive performances that exploit the instrument's inherent variety of tonal colours in different registers, highlighting the relationship between the musical substance and instrument - - [In D959] her appealingly spontaneous playing style strikingly emphasizes the relationship between tone quality and gesture - - sensitive use of agogics gives the finale added piquancy.'

Mendelssohn 48 Songs without Words - Olga Tverskaya pf Opus 111 CD OPS30-183

- - this is the only CD collection of Songs without Words played on a period fortepiano. And very welcome it is too. The modern copy of an 1823 Viennese Brodmann has an attractive hazy resonance and, as recorded here, a wide dynamic spectrum. Olga Tverskaya plays with an idiomatic sense of rubato and a true feeling for Mendelssohn's gracious melodic contours. - -

Vorisek Fantasia,Op. 12. 6 Impromptus,Op. 7. Sonata for Piano,Op. 20. Variations,Op. 19. Olga Tverskaya fp Opus 111 OPS30-241

Some of his music – including all the items on this CD – has been recorded before, but only on a modern instrument, and its delicate, early-romantic colours are far better represented on the fortepiano used here - - Vorisek’s quite individual harmonic style and his command of the instrument - - is happily paralleled in the playing of Olga Tverskaya, whose singing lines, brilliant passagework and feeling for Vorisek’s passion and his personal vein of fantasy serve the music well.

Mozart Sonata for Keyboard and Violin No 23,K306/K300l. Sonata for Keyboard and Violin No 28,K380/K374f. Sonata for Keyboard and Violin No 32,K454.
Fabio Biondi vn Olga Tverskaya fp Opus 111 CD OPS30-216

This selection of Mozart piano and violin sonatas offers - - what are among the most brilliant of the sonatas – Tverskaya's and Biondi's strength lies in their firm, fluent, resilient rhythms in the quick movements - - I enjoyed the delicacy they brought to the Andante - - of K380, a gentle G minor movement which they take rather slowly and play expressively. - - this is accomplished playing, with a good balance of the period instruments, and there is plenty to enjoy.'


© Peter Grahame Woolf