Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Prelude in B flat major Op. 23 No. 2 (1903) [4.16]
Elegie in E flat minor Op. 3 No. 1 (1892) [6.44]
Prelude in G sharp minor Op. 32 No. 12 (1910) [3.01]
Prelude in G minor Op. 23 No. 5 (1903) [4.33]
Prelude in D major Op. 23 No. 4 (1903) [5.42]
Variations on a Theme of Corelli Op. 42 (1931) [20.42]
Prelude in E major Op. 32 No. 3 (1910) [3.04]
Prelude in G major Op. 32 No. 5 (1910) [3.36]
Prelude in E minor Op. 32 No. 4 (1910) [6.30]
Prelude in B flat minor Op. 32 No. 2 (1910) [3.35]
Prelude in E flat major Op. 23 No. 6 (1903) [3.16]
Prelude in B minor Op. 32 No. 10 9 (1910) [7.19]
Prelude in C sharp minor Op. 3 No. 2 (1892) [4.28]
Vassily Primakov (Piano)
rec. 13-15 January 2011, Academy of Arts and Letters, New York City.
BRIDGE 9348 [77.07]

Vassily Primakov, the winner of numerous prizes at international piano competitions, has a distinguished international career. In this Rachmaninov recital, he plays works spanning the whole of the composerís career from the early Op. 3 Elegie and Prelude to the Corelli variations which was his last work for solo piano.

On the whole Primakov is better in the more introspective and elusive Op. 32 preludes than the more extrovert and virtuosic Op. 23 set. The opening prelude from Op. 23 in B flat major is taken at a relatively slow pace which seems rather pedestrian compared with Richterís magisterial account, or the recent recording by Alessio Bax. Primakov coaxed a beautiful tone from the piano for the soulful Elegie and the soaring climaxes were impassioned and emotionally charged. His account of the famous G sharp minor prelude from Op. 32 is carefully nuanced with some well judged rubato: he coaxes a wonderful range of colour from the piano without quite reaching Horowitzís atmospheric heights. The equally famous G minor prelude from Op. 23 is well played although I thought he could have let rip more in the outer march sections. The lyrical D major from Op. 23 is gorgeous and sensitively played with some well judged textural layering.

Primakovís account of the Corelli Variations is very good although I think Bax again has the edge. The tempo relationships and transitions between the variations are well judged with Primakov injecting a sense of architectural coherence. The opening variations are taken briskly with Primakov enjoying the syncopations and cross-rhythms. Variation 7 could have been more charged and fiery although I liked Primakovís playful rendition of variation 10. With variations 14 and 15 in D flat major, Primakov seems to find the beating heart of the piece and he coaxes some lovely, warm colours from the piano. His playing of variation 16 was coquettish and fanciful while he succeeds in working the piece up to an exciting climax in variations 18-20. The final variation is languid and expressive bringing the work to a suitably subdued conclusion.

In the final set of preludes, Primakov conjures luminous tone colours from the piano for the G major, while the B flat minor is soulful and atmospheric with some wonderful filigree playing in the central section. The E flat major, with its meandering left hand, is poetic and eloquent while Primakov achieves a real sense of grandeur with the E flat minor. I was less convinced by the execution of the E minor and the E major with its toccata figurations. Both seem a little tentative. The final C sharp minor prelude is played with real authority and power.

Overall, I thought this was a very good recital although there may be scope for Primakov to let himself go more in the composerís more extrovert virtuoso passage-work.

Robert Beattie

A very good recital although there may be scope for Primakov to let himself go more in the composerís more extrovert virtuoso passage-work.