Rachmaninov: Études-tableaux & Preludes (excerpts); Morceaux de fantaisie, Op. 3

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COMPOSERS: Rachmaninov
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Études-tableaux & Preludes (excerpts); Morceaux de fantaisie, Op. 3
PERFORMER: Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
Rachmaninov’s piano music has a unique kind of resonance – spacious and rich. Nothing makes the modern grand sound more glamorous, and it’s tempting for pianists to wallow. Demidenko puts the music under less constant pressure than his friend Dmitri Alexeev, who has made a very fine double CD of all the Preludes, Op. 3 pieces and Moments musicaux. Alexeev’s very physical intensity may be compelling, but Demidenko is more poetic and versatile in expression. He moves with the athletic grace of a cat and can snarl like a tiger. His tone ranges from melting delicacy in the Mélodie, Op. 3, to a fiery fortissimo without violence in the E flat minor Étude-tableau (Op. 39/5). And he gives the Prelude in C sharp minor from Op. 3 all the qualities of solemnity, mystery and passion that might have faded with over-familiarity. The recording is excellent: not too close, but clear. A marvellous disc. Adrian Jack