WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op. 28; Six Moments Musicaux. Op. 16; Prelude in C sharp minor. Op. 3/2
PERFORMER: John Lill (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: NI 5575
John Lill’s project to record all of Rachmaninov’s solo piano music has taken him to the Moments musicaux and the First Piano Sonata, unfortunately some of the least attractive areas of Rachmaninov’s piano oeuvre. The Sonata is a huge ungainly rambling thing whose pleasures are few and far between. Lill attacks it with characteristic rhythmic strength, a keen sense of focus and great propulsive energy — but despite all his well-directioned efforts the piece remains a bit of a chore.
In the Moments musicauxLitt at times throws up a dense wall of sound that makes for an indomitable, rather monolithic vision, but in all this difficult repertoire his musical instincts and technical assurance are never open to doubt.
Mikhail Pletnev’s Rachmaninov is engagingly thoughtful and questioning. Whether or not this results in part from playing the 70-year-old Steinway that used to belong to Rachmaninov — luminously recorded for this disc in its current z home in Switzerland – he turns in a z brilliant performance. In between r~ Rachmaninov’s Corelli Variations H and various Etudes-tableaux, Pletnev presents a refreshing Beethoven Les adieuxand some exhilarating Mendelssohn and Chopin, all bearing the marks of a pianist of outstanding gifts. Christopher Wood