I have always had a sneaking regard for Rachmaninov's 1st Piano Concerto
and I sway in my affections between this and the third Concerto. Although
the Concerto was drastically revised in 1917 shortly before Rachmaninov left
Russia for ever, it is astonishingly assured and mature for a student work.
It brims with wonderful melodies; who, for instance, could resist the
heart-on-sleeve emotion of the lovely central Andante. This is a sterling
performance delivered by veteran Sequeira Costa whose career has now spanned
four decades, yet his reading has the ardour and poetry of youth. Christopher
Seaman delivers a powerful yet sensitive accompaniment.
Costa is joined by Artur Pizarro in a splendid performance of Rachmaninov's
'Etudes Tableaux', dedicated to the memory of Tchaikovsky who had just died,
when the work was completed in 1893. The music is again very tuneful, colourful
and evocative. After a Barcarolle, the second movement, 'The Night', is inspired
by Byron's poetry and a nightingale is heard. In the third movement, 'Tears',
heavy bells toll mournfully and the finale, 'Easter Festival', is based on
words by Alexei Khomyokov and chronicles the celebrations beloved of the
In the control room there is Brian Culverhouse as producer and balance engineer
ensuring tip-top sound. It is nice to see him credited on a CD again.