Rachmaninov: Preludes and Elégie from Opp. 2, 23 & 32

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COMPOSERS: Rachmaninov
LABELS: Bridge
WORKS: Preludes and Elégie from Opp. 3, 23 & 32; Variations on a Theme by Corelli, Op. 42
PERFORMER: Vassily Primakov (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: BRIDGE 9348

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Vassily Primakov delivers some exceptionally fine Rachmaninov playing in this generously filled recital. All the necessary ingredients are in place from the opening barnstorming bars of the B flat major Prelude, Op. 23 No. 2. Primakov maximises the music’s richness of sonority, producing a warm and luxuriant sound that builds up in intensity. He is equally compelling in projecting the delicate yet mysterious passagework that characterises the G sharp minor Prelude, Op. 32 No. 12, and caresses the cantabile line of the D major Op. 23 No. 4 with subtle use of rubato.

In the outer sections of the famous G minor Prelude Op. 23 No. 5, Primakov ensures that the articulation of the melody and its accompaniment are clearly delineated and that the climactic passages are never too heavy. There is a similarly admirable attention to detail in the wonderful B minor Prelude Op. 32 No. 10, in which Primakov marshals a huge range of colours while maintaining a deep sense of gloomy introspection.

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As a contrast to the assortment of Preludes, Primakov also features the Corelli Variations, the composer’s last substantial piano work. Once again the performance is totally captivating, managing to emphasise the leaner more acerbic features of the writing, but not at the expense of its moments of nostalgia (as in the magical 15th variation). Erik Levi