> Tchaikovsky Piano Concerti Anissimov ADW7387 [RB]: Classical Reviews- March 2002 MusicWeb-International






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Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Piano Concerto No. 1 [33.34]
Piano Concerto No. 2 [44.01]

Mikhaïl Petukhov (piano)
Buenos Aires PO/Alexander Anissimov
rec Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires, 3 May 1993, 13 Sept 1994
PAVANE ADW 7387 [77.40]

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This is an exotic item: a Russian pianist and conductor, a South American orchestra and a Belgian classical label. We have all the right ingredients for adventure. Do they come together successfully?

Petukhov gives, as the Scots say, braw performances seemingly unphased, in fact enthused, by the presence of an audience and the evening's ambience of mixed expectations. His technique is strong as might be expected from the winner of the International Queen Elisabeth prize in 1975. The Belgian competition may well explain the interest of Pavane. Did he know that his performances on those two nights were to be recorded?

Petukhov plays unaffectedly and his unruly adrenalin and Anissimov's mustang approach goads the orchestra onwards to new heights and vistas. This really is very exciting stuff. His piano tone is full, statuesque, stonily bell-resonant, kicking down any fences that get in the way. Listen to the way at 5.09 of the allegro con fuoco of the First Concerto Petukhov slows and accelerates with gruff nobility.

The Second is played in its original version (the norm nowadays) and shows the same strengths (and weaknesses although a low-level electronic buzz heard in the First Concerto is now notable by its absence) as the First. Expectations must have been high that evening some sixteen months after the same forces had galvanised the Teatro Colón audience. The syncopated locomotive playing of Petukhov at 14.54 of the first movement is phenomenal. The audience noise is cut between first and second movements so abruptly that I wonder if ill-judged purism excised some instinctive inter-movement applause. I must mention Pablo Sarari (violin) and Carlos Nozzi (cello) who, with Petukhov, form the 'trio' of soloists whose contributions are to be heard in the famously sentimental andante non troppo. They stay just the right side of lachrymose. Anissimov lights a fire under the orchestra and they play with that eager and hoarse devilment we find in the First Concerto. I 'learnt' the Second Concerto from the EMI-Melodiya Zhukhov recording which was exciting but does not throw caution to damnation in quite the same the way that Petukhov and his collaborators do.

Of course there is a price to be paid. We must live with shuffling, coughs, clearings of throats and the usual aural detritus of a live event. The orchestra is not voluptuous of tone. Wiriness adds glassy chafed edge to the massed violins. Pavane's annotator, Dr Marina Evseeva highlights the tiny acoustic and mechanical faults. There is a low buzz in the distant background of No. 1 - nothing to deter but I must mention it. At the end of No. 1 the audience, quite rightly, roar their approval (as they do for No. 2 complete with braying bravos).

What a wonderfully shocking event being in the presence of Petukhov those Buenos Aires evenings in May and September 1993 and 1994 must have been.

I am looking out for more Petukhov. I want to hear more. So will you. I would love to hear him in Rachmaninov 3 and 4, Brahms 2, Bortkiewicz 2 and 3 and in Medtner 2 and 3.

Do you look back on your early encounters with music and wonder whether you will ever recapture that buzz, that frisson. If you do then I urge you to get this disc. It is something very special. I will not be the only one trying to hear more Petukhov in anything. Track this one down and let me know what you think.

Rob Barnett

 



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