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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Tchaikovsky
ALBUM TITLE: Tchaikovsky: Piano Concertos 1 & 2
WORKS: Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2
PERFORMER: Simon Trpceski (piano); Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko


Simon Trpceski, Vasily Petrenko and the RLPO have followed up their acclaimed Rachmaninov recordings by moving on to Tchaikovsky. They offer solid, propulsive accounts of both of these sprawling warhorses. There’s no room for sentimentality, happily; but there’s little room for an individual stamp, either.

In the Concerto No. 2, seldom heard, this is less of an issue. Trpceski begins like a racehorse out of the starting gate, and there are moments when even his crisply muscular touch and strength of articulation can’t stop him sounding a little flustered. Still, overall he sounds less impetuous and more poised than Denis Matsuev in his recent recording with Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra.

In the slow movement, violinist James Clark and cellist Jonathan Aasgaard take over in a richly woven duet, Clark indulging in some old-school portamento. The finale is a romp, with the characterful clarinet suddenly very forward in a mix that doesn’t leave much space around the soloist.

With the First Concerto, Trpceski enters a crowded field. He cultivates cool ardour that cuts through the music’s grandiloquence, but, as so often, the tricky first movement emerges as a string of catchy episodes rather than a joined-up whole. Petrenko is always of a mind with his soloist, and shapes some powerful long crescendos, but lets the orchestra veer dangerously close to bombast, and there is the occasional fortissimo moment where the tuning might have justified one more take.


Erica Jeal