Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


CD REVIEW

Some items
to consider

 


New App by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra for iOS and Android!


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

alternatively
CD: Crotchet AmazonUK AmazonUS

 

Sergey RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18 (1900-01) [34.34]
Moments Musicaux, Op. 16 (1896) [30.21]
Dejan Lazić (piano)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Kirill Petrenko
rec. live, Royal Festival Hall, London, England, May 2008 (op. 18); Muziekcentrum Frits Philips, Eindhoven, The Netherlands, May 2008 (op. 16), SACD
Booklet notes and artists’ biographies in English, German and French
CHANNEL CLASSICS CCSSA26308 [64.15]
Experience Classicsonline

The Piano Concerto No. 2 was composed after the deep depression that followed the failure of the First Symphony. According to historical sources, Rachmaninov was not appreciated in St. Petersburg, where the symphony was premiered in 1897. He had been expelled in 1885 from the local conservatory and had then completed his studies in Moscow. The premiere of the First Symphony was conducted by Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936) who reportedly was drunk and trashed the work. The critics relished the opportunity and completely destroyed the composer and the composition. Rachmaninov believed that he was unfit for composition and began drinking immoderately while attempting other career paths, namely as a concert pianist and a conductor. By the end of 1899 he was an alcoholic, whose hands shook heavily, stopping him from playing the piano. From January to April 1900, Rachmaninov had then the good sense of visiting daily a Dr Dahl, a Moscow specialist in “neuro-psychotherapy” or, in other words, hypnosis and was urged during these sessions to compose a new piano concerto that had been commissioned by a London impresario. The trance therapy brought Rachmaninov back from the dead and shook him out of his lethargy. He composed with great ease this new and wonderful piano concerto: The No. 2 in C minor, which he dedicated to Dr Dahl, as a token of his gratitude for the therapy. Rachmaninov was never again impaired by depression in spite of some bad turns of fortune in his life.
 
The Piano Concerto No. 2 is formed of three movements and is classic in its structure. It is also possibly the best known and most widely recorded of Rachmaninov’s piano pieces, perhaps with the exception of his Variations on a Theme by Paganini. One may be forgiven for wondering why it might be necessary to record it again but this is the kind of situation that continuously happens with popular pieces. It is always an enriching experience to listen to a new interpretation. This performance was recorded live at the Royal Festival Hall in May 2008 and although the various reviews, which I read at the time, were complimentary of the pianist, several complained that he could not be heard during the parts of the first and last movements when the orchestra joins in. I was therefore eager to listen to it and judge for myself.
 
Dejan Lazić is a fine pianist but I am sorry to have to say that his performance failed to impress me. Although the piano is heard in this recording much clearer than it must have been live, one still gets the impression that it is not completely there. The opening chords of the first movement, Moderato; Allegro, are perfectly played, leading the way for the powerful entrance of the orchestra. After that the piano fades into the background, almost as if the pianist was hitting the keys with a surprising lack of strength. This concerto and particularly, the first movement are dominated by a dark, expressive mood that requires a pianist that understands the emotions within the composer’s mind and narrates the story contained in the music with passion and drama. Personally, I think that Lazić’s playing lacks these qualities; he is too soft and that is why when the orchestra is present, he no longer takes centre-stage. This situation is completely reversed when we get to the second movement, Adagio sostenuto. Here, Lazić is definitely in his element and he excels. His interpretation is beautifully evocative, almost poetic and he approaches the instrument in a sensitive manner; his playing is very delicate, nearly feminine in style. It is a wonderful rendition of the second movement and one that I found myself playing over and over again. However, once one gets to the third and final movement, Allegro scherzando, the piano does not disappear as such but one forgets that it is actually there. This is a piano concerto and not an orchestral piece as such. Therefore, hearing mostly the orchestra and hardly noticing the pianist is obviously not the objective. There were moments, during the third movement where Lazić appeared hesitant, as if his fingers lacked the dexterity or the strength to play. The London Philharmonic, on the other hand, under the excellent leadership of Kirill Petrenko, gives a magnificent performance. The orchestra is in perfect tune with the conductor and dramatically very expressive, in particular during the darker C minor mood of the first movement and the glorious contrasting C major of the final one. Petrenko is undoubtedly a fabulous conductor: passionate, insightful and inspiring. I can hardly wait to watch him live.
 
The second work, Moments Musicaux, is an earlier piece that Rachmaninov composed in 1896, before his breakdown. It is a set of six precious little gems for solo piano, imposing and difficult, but that complement each other harmoniously, which renders them perfect for a complete performance. With his interpretation of these pieces, my confidence and belief in Lazić’s attributes as a pianist were fully restored. He really comes into his own without the orchestra’s presence and this demonstrates why he is such a fabulous chamber musician. His performance is engaging and virtuosic, beautifully expressive and emotional but he does not allow himself to indulge in romantic sentiment. His rendition remains sober yet deeply felt, moving and personal. His playing is precise and his technique impeccable and pure. A real treat and a joy to listen to.
 
The sound quality of the recording is, like with all hybrid CDs, excellent however one listens to it, however it is really superior when played on the appropriate SACD equipment. The sound is crystal clear; every note is noticed, every little nuance is present and does not disappear. I derive great pleasure from this brilliance of sound and in some instances, as with the best orchestral parts, I found myself with my eyes closed, thinking I was in a real concert hall.
 
Dejan Lazić’s interpretation of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 is perhaps a little disappointing and definitely not one of the best I have ever heard, however his is a solid performance, with a wonderfully played second movement. If you are not bothered that the piano fades during the orchestra’s passages, then stick to it because you are in for a treat when you get to the interpretation of Moments Musicaux.
 
Margarida Mota-Bull
 


 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.