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Review Polina Leshenko

img  Tobias
There is not much to be found on Polina Leshenko in the Internet, but it is all smiles. She has been called about any thing from »enchanting« to »wonderful« and there have been just as many raving reviews in »serious« music magazines as there have been reports on the radio. It is not exactly hard to detect where the enthusiasm comes from. Firstly, Martha Argerich is hosting her first CD, not the worst patron by any means. Secondly, her live presence is captivating and she has never shied away from an opportunity to play (including concerts with tripple  her  age  Michael Bezverhny and quickly filling in for Imogen Cooper on another occasion). Thirdly, she has lived the life of a Wunderkind from her earliest infant days, a fact she is happy to acknowledge and feels totally comfortable with. This girl is definitely not ashamed of her talents!

On the other hand, as important as playing live may be, it would be a good idea to display the same sense of sparkling superiority in the studio as well. While this disc might not be a total disaster, it is a let-down for sure, leaving much to be desired and only rarely granting a glimpse at Leschenkos genius. There is every indication of a rushed affair, even though that hardly suffices as an excuse, as she should be in familiar territory: Liszt, Chopin and Brahms constitute her core repertoire.

A part of the problem at least can be attributed to production. David Groves dissappoints with a lifeless piano sound with hardly any brilliance, which would require an enormous amount of finesse and concentration from any artist. Still, Leschenko has her self to blame as well. She does not as yet have the required angularity and street-wiseness necessary for the short pieces and finds it hard to maneuver through the longer ones. So naturally, her strength should lie in medium sized compositions. Proof of this can be found in her more than solid performance of Kreislers Liebesleid, with its nervously tantalising opening just as perfectly realised as the placid resignation of the conclusion. And her handling of the Largo from Bachs »Trio Sonata No. 5« is phenomenally subtle and full of touching  nuances  –  from  another world, almost.

Finally, the impressive technical abilities within her reach are turned inside-out on Liszts »Etude No. 6«. The rest of the material, however, does not stand the quality test. Sudden moments of beauty are always present, but one desperately longs for a red thread, a sign of direction, guidance.
Future recordings will have to show the true potential of  this  young  descendent  of  Saint  Petersburg.  The »Martha Argerich  presents« series  might look like a welcome opportunity for displaying talent, but with a lack lustre booklet and an overt presence of the Argentinean superstar on the cover, it is trying to sell an old name just as much as a new one. Leschenko has managed to live with praise and glory, she will have to live with criticism as well.

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