"Stravinsky regarded the piano as primarily a percussion instrument; even when spinning an elegantly sustained neo-classical melody his piano textures are crisp and dry. I am sure Martin Jones knows this - his many recordings demonstrate a pianist of remarkable sensitivity to a wide range of styles - and has scrupulously tried to project a genuinely Stravinskian sound. Indeed this is shown by his care over those early works where Stravinsky hardly sounds like Stravinsky at all: the amply Tchaikovskian manner of the F sharp minor Sonata and the Skriabinesque shot colours of the four études are both admirably conveyed." Michael Oliver, Classic CD
"The Sonata with its cool almost Ravelian Adagietto and the delightful Serenade are perhaps Stravinsky's two finest solo works, and ought to be much better known. The much later and beguiling Tango contrasts with the Circus Polka, which, with its parody of Schubert's Marche Militaire brings an element of the bizarre. Martin Jones readily encompasses the wide range of these pieces."
The Penguin Guide
The promise is realised at once, with punchy performances of some of Stravinsky’s most appealing miniatures, Jones is particularly good with the belting tumult of the Circus Polka, but also turns out a good if marginally too well-fed Tango, and the opening Piano Rag Music is like having a bucket of cold water thrown in your face on a hot day – very refreshing indeed. The 1924 Sonate is given its due weight as one of the concert pieces written for the composer’s own use as a performer, with echoes of his other pieces packaged into a technically approachable and fairly compact package.
CD 2 brings us more meaty fare, with the remarkable piano version of Chant du rossignol pushing the piano to its limits at times. The multiple layers of the orchestration make for a massive set of sonorities, but this is something in which Martin Jones excels, and he gives plenty of exotic colour to the music as well as generating orchestral levels of sound. Hearing this on the piano also brings Olivier Messiaen to mind – and I don’t mean anything bird-related in particular. Given the Parisian context of the score it is not improbable that he might have known it, and if he heard it performed anything like this it would certainly have made its mark.
There are a few Stravinsky solo piano programmes available and Martin Jones can stand as equal to any of the alternatives I’ve come across. This 2 CD set is an immensely enjoyable one-stop collection.
Dominy Clements Musicweb-international.com