> Sergei Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto No.1 & 3 [RB]: Classical CD Reviews- June2002 MusicWeb(UK)






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Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Piano Concerto No. 1 (1890) [23.58]
Piano Concerto No. 3 (1909) [44.49]
Peter Katin (piano) (1)
Alicia de Larrocha (piano) (3)
LSO/Previn (3); LPO/Boult (1)
rec 1971 (1), 1975 (3), ADD
DECCA ELOQUENCE 461 348-2 [68.47]

 

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Larrocha's way with Rachmaninov 3 is studiedly poetic and leisurely - Florestan rather than Eusebius. Rachmaninov is left sounding closer than ever to Medtner. Larrocha also brings the concerto closer to Schumann than to the moody, unsettling, subversive restlessness we usually associate with this composer and this concerto.

Certainly there are isolated flourishes and slashes of virtuosity but the dominant hallmark is one of musing reflection. Larrocha creates world enough and time to allow the music an evolutionary effluorescence. The sound colludes in this approach - velvety and warm.

Whatever the virtues, ultimately this comes across as eccentric, as a dissection in the aural equivalent of slow motion photography. The finale still warms the blood and you are conscious of the orchestra, that was very much Previn's, playing with a possessed pathos. As ever with such extremes, one learns new things about well-beloved works, but this version belongs in the unhurried and extremely idiosyncratic company of Ida Haendel's Elgar Violin Concerto (Testament) and Bernstein's Elgar Enigma (DG). For first choices go for Earl Wild on Chandos and Argerich's classic account on Philips.

If you need a holiday from larger than life Slavonic temperament this could well be for you and in the finale Larrocha has you won over. I loved her way (and Previn's) with the pay-off climactic episodes in the last few minutes of the concerto.

The First Concerto sounds a shade boxier than the de Larrocha tape. Boult keeps things moving along nicely and his climaxes are tense and nervy - as tetchy as his impressive Sibelius tone poems on Everest (Omega). Katin makes less of the andante than Wild but he otherwise gives a sound and often exciting twist to the music. The rasping brass are extremely well rendered in the finale. This is more of a mainstream approach than the Larrocha.

This is a worthwhile super-bargain pairing of a highly personal peripheral reading of the Third and a sturdy mainstream version of the Tchaikovskian First.

Rob Barnett

 


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