Of Lands and People Far Away

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CD from pianist, recording engineer and producer Sergei Kvitko contains Schumann’s Kinderszenen, Debussy’s Children’s Corner and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

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“This is masterful, intuitive playing, albeit not without some interesting quirks. His program is united by a pianism that embraces the instrument as an ensemble of strings, as opposed to a row of hammers. You almost never hear the front of the attack; everything has a plangent profile and a cantabile momentum. Perhaps the most arresting artistry occurs in the quiet, slower moments in the Schumann, where Kvitko finds profound poetry. He is never in a rush, and so his “Golliwogg’s Cakewalk” is almost a slow dance, and the cattle cart in Mussorgsky’s “Bydlo” lumbers as lugubriously as I have ever heard it. This is an interpretive choice, not a safe one. When the material calls for alacrity and tension, such as in the mad rush to the “Great Gates of Kiev,” Kvitko delivers. There is, elsewhere, an iconoclastic sense for rubato rhythm and phrasing, but never in a self-serving way. Kvitko loves the music more than he loves himself.”

Fanfare Magazine

“I think I have to add Mr Kvitko’s Pictures to my collection; it belongs among the best ever made, and the sound is simply thrilling. His Mousorgsky is strong and heavy, with slow tempos and powerful crashes of sound. `The Old Castle’ is dark and shrouded in mystery. The last note of “Catacombs” really makes you sit up straight. Much of what he does is startling and dramatic, and all of it sounds natural and very Russian. All his playing is pictorial – more descriptive. You can visualize the pictures from what he is playing. `The Great Gate of Kiev’ is a majestic structure when Mr. Kvitko plays it for us – a culmination of all we have “seen”, causing us to gasp”

D. Vroon American Record Guide

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