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Prokofiev’s nine sonatas, spanning his life as a composer, are a challenge even for the most accomplished pianists, and it’s not clear, from the first five, whether Donohoe is best equipped to express their range.
He makes a strong case for the single-movement first sonata, a student work in which Prokofiev imbues the virtuosity of Russian keyboard tradition with forward-looking elements. The second sonata’s acrobatics and wit are somewhat smothered, and the third’s tempestuous allegros sound relentless.
It’s only in the slow central movement of the fourth sonata and the fifth’s tranquil idioms that Donohoe allows Prokofiev space and shade. His sternest test will come in the massive sixth, seventh and eighth sonatas.
Piano Sonatas Vol 1