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RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 3 & Variations on a theme of Chopin     Andrei Pisarev, Russian Philharmonic Orchestra/Samuel Friedmann   Arte Nova 74321 67509 2 66'19"

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This new Rachmaninoff 3 and Arte Nova's Tchaikovsky 2 & 3 with the same orchestra and conductor (also reviewed, but summarily) are different as chalk from cheese. There are two important differences - both recordings were made a few months apart in the same Moscow studio, but with different engineers, and Andrei Pisarev is a quite marvellous pianist.

Born in 1962, he won important competitions in Moscow (Rachmaninoff) and Salzburg (Mozart). The latter may give a clue to his unusual sensibility. His technical command can be taken for granted. If you don't know the Rachmaninoff Chopin Variations Op 22 (1903, based on the C minor Prelude which every amateur pianist plays) do select it first, instead of treating them as a fill-up. It is a major work lasting 27 mins, unaccountably neglected, included by Rachmaninoff in each of his 1909 recitals in America, and Pisarev makes as good a case for it as I have heard.

There are flights of fancy and subtle rubato phrasing in both variations and concerto, reminiscent of Rachmaninoff's own. The rapport with conductor and orchestra is excellent - you can sense them listening and reacting to each other. Balance is ideal and recorded sound of piano and orchestra very beautiful. This is a real discovery, an auspicious release, which raises hope that Pisarev's agent might consider booking concert appearances for him in Britain.


Peter Grahame Woolf


Peter Grahame Woolf

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