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Pavel PABST (1854-1897)
Piano Concerto in E flat [31:27]

Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)
Piano Concerto in C sharp major [
Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915)
Piano Concerto in F sharp minor [27:29]
Oleg Marshev (piano)
South Jutland Symphony Orchestra/Vladimir Ziva
rec. Alsion, Sonderborg, Denmark, 5-10 March 2007
Experience Classicsonline

Pavel Pabst came from a musical family: his father was an organist and opera composer, his mother an opera singer and elder brother a pianist and teacher – one of his pupils being no less than Percy Grainger! As a pianist, Pabst studied with Liszt, taught at the Moscow Conservatoire, performed with Rachmaninov and helped both Tchaikovsky and Arensky with their piano concertos. He composed almost exclusively piano works, many of which have since been lost.

His Piano Concerto in E flat is an absolute delight, and combines a sort of touching simplicity and naivety with virtuosic pyrotechnics and flamboyant romanticism. It opens with an expansive and impassioned first movement – heroic and epic, with very delicate passages in the cadenza contrasting the rich, thick exuberant episodes. The slow movement is more introspective, lyrical and reflective – really beautiful, with a most noble theme entering towards the end. The third movement opens, lively and dancing, and ends in a blaze of virtuosity. Oleg Marshev gives a rollicking performance of this excellent piece – he is superbly delicate and sensitive when the music demands it, and big and swashbuckling in the rest. 

The Rimsky-Korsakov Piano Concerto in C sharp major is based on a single theme, a folksong that Balakirev collected. Although not as exciting and exhilarating a concerto as the Pabst, this is nevertheless a good work, and deserves greater recognition. 

The disc concludes with Scriabin’s Piano Concerto in F sharp minor, a relatively early work, so not yet reaching the heady heights of passion that Scriabin later accomplishes, but still a very accomplished piece. It is quite dark in place, exotic in others, and as well played here as both the Pabst and Rimsky-Korsakov. 

These are lively and crisp performances, all the performers playing with both astuteness and passion. A simply splendid disc – and I can guarantee that you’ll be whistling bits of the memorable Pabst for weeks!

Em Marshall 

see also Review by Rob Barnett



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