Accomplished pianist Sophia Agranovich – a Ukraine-born musician who mastered the ivories over decades of training, playing, and teaching (and we’re talking the Juilliard School) – presents another masterclass in interpreting the classics. And yes, we’re talking about her forthcoming album, Album Leaf – Piano Works by Felix Mendelssohn. Releasing November 3rd, this new album focuses on works not often recorded or performed. Translation: This is a real treat performed by a true virtuoso worthy of reviving the brilliant but nearly forgotten music of a historically exalted musician. So…let’s hit the highlights.
Wait. Who does what?
Sophia Agranovich plays the piano (of course). Oh, and she recorded the entire album in ONE DAY. How can you play such elevated music well enough to record it so quickly? Well, you have to be on par with the incredible musicianship of Sophia Agranovich (of course).
Now, back to those highlights:
The album opens with “Fantasia Op. 28, I.” And it’s ominous, foreboding, light, and forceful. You’ve heard excerpts of this piece before, but you never heard them played like this. When the piece swells in anger, the volume bursts; there’s no overcompression creating a stale, always level and unfeeling piece. This is certainly a stunning, impressive opener.
Tracks two and three tackle the second and third movements of “Fantasia Op. 28.” And they’re both incredible displays of Agranovich’s nimble, emotional playing.
The eponymous track #4 (“Album Leaf”) features lower note rumbling and shadows of lamentation, but rises in moments of dogged determination and inspiration.
“Caprice in A Minor” is sadness with glad tidings; a musical bleeding out with a smile. And then it’s flight, ambition, longing, and perhaps catastrophe. Excellent blending of so many musical ideas and devastating emotions.
Tracks seven, eight, and nine – “Etude” No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3, are certainly impactful. You’ve heard excerpts of “No. 1” – it’s a consistent twinking of mid-to-high notes through various slow-step chord changes. Again, it’s motivation and melancholy created amid skillful musical brevity.
“Etude No. 2” is…speed metal for classical piano. The notes are played quickly. Furiously. Her hands a presumed blur, waving like hummingbird wings across the keys. Good God, this is amazing.
Closing movement “Etude No. 3” is another brief piece, and the fury from “No. 2,” although reduced, is still present. “Etude No. 3” has its say, and quickly leaves the room.
Album closer “Rondo Capriccioso” resides in grace – in restraint. It’s gliding and not running. It’s darkness but not gloom. It does gain aggression, and swiftly shifts moods, but it’s never forced or heavy handed. “Rondo Capriccioso” is a powerful piece that ends with powerful strikes; like the song – and its player – reserved strength until punctuating a final, defiant feeling.
But is it good?
No – it’s grand. It’s untouchable. It’s…magnificent. Looking for a piano virtuoso who can truly interpret the work of a hallowed classical master? Pining for playing on a level that seems, sadly, to fade as technology replaces creativity? Then you NEED to purchase Album Leaf – Piano Works by Felix Mendelssohn by Sophia Agranovich. It’s almost more than human ears deserve.
BELOW: Check out Sophia Agranovich on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (“X”). And be sure to purchase the INCREDIBLE new album when it debuts on November 3rd. Please support Sophia Agranovich by visiting her website and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing her music. And, as always, thank you for supporting real music.
(Want to have your music reviewed on The Ark of Music? Click HERE.)
Follow, stream, download & connect with SOPHIA AGRANOVICH online:
Listen to ALBUM LEAF – PIANO WORKS BY FELIX MENDELSSOHN by SOPHIA AGRANOVICH:
Album Leaf – Piano Works by Felix Mendelssohn premieres on 11/03/2023