Rachmaninov: Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor; Variations on a Theme of Corelli; Preludes Op. 23 (excerpts)

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COMPOSERS: Rachmaninov
LABELS: Claudio
WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor; Variations on a Theme of Corelli; Preludes Op. 23 (excerpts)
PERFORMER: Maxim Philippov (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CC 4322 DDD (distr. Complete Record Co.)
The pros and cons of live recordings are numerous and this Rachmaninov recital by the young Russian pianist Maxim Philippov brings these issues very much to the fore. True, there is an immediacy to a live performance which ‘perfected’ studio recordings, spliced together in many takes, may not have; that does not compensate for the wrong notes that proliferate, notably in the B flat major Prelude (Op. 23/2) on this recording. A Cortot can get away with them, but Philippov, although his readings have a welcome spaciousness and songful phrasing, is not yet an artist of that stature. Philippov took the newly inaugurated Rachmaninov Prize at the Leeds Piano Competition last year and shows considerable potential. But, while much of the playing is warm and eloquent, he does not offer in this performance the sheer variety of colour and emotional expression to which Rachmaninov’s music can lend itself so beautifully; and a sense of abandon and ecstasy, especially in the faster pieces, is notably absent, apparently eschewed in favour of carefulness. Jessica Duchen

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