Rachmaninov, Schumann & Schulz-Evler

COMPOSERS: Rachmaninov,Schumann & Schulz-Evler
LABELS: EMI
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Martha Argerich Presents…
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Mauricio Vallina (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDM 5 67936 2
Martha Argerich, great pianist and great human being, passionate believer in musical ‘community’ and the promotion of fresh talent, has persuaded EMI to offer four gifted young pianists a recital disc each – no mean feat in these days of falling sales and concomitant record-company risk-aversion. The venture proves worthwhile: from the evidence it’s clear that all four have ‘something to say’.

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A general problem with young instrumentalists’ initial visits to the recording studio is that a sense of caution, or else a determination at all costs to keep fingers disciplined, sometimes invades their labours there – at the expense of spontaneity and risk-taking. Only one of the group seems wholly free of this handicap: the youngest, the Korean Dong-Hyek Lim (b1984), who brings to Chopin, Schubert Impromptus and Ravel’s own transcription of La valse a quality of radiance that betokens real music-making. Poetry and virtuosity seem in balance; each performance manifests flow and sweep. In the Chopin First Ballade I soon stopped making comparisons with past ‘greats’ and succumbed to the beauty, ease and naturalness of the playing, no small achievement.

The Russian Brakhman (b1981), offering Mozart (K330), Beethoven (Tempest) and Liszt sonatas, takes flight more fitfully, but nonetheless discloses a powerful musical intelligence expressed in strongly sustained technique. Brakhman shows real feeling for musical argument, as demonstrated in the exactness and authority with which he stages each unfolding phase of the Liszt. The Cuban Vallina (b1970), oldest of the four, offers glimpses of fiery temperament in his Rachmaninov Chopin Variations and in a deliciously sparkling Schulz-Evler Blue Danube transcription. For some reason he apparently damped this down in a reading of Carnaval by turns inspired and self-consciously painstaking, the latter particularly in the finale.

Strangely, the best-known and most experienced pianist of the four, the Ukrainian Mogilevsky (b1977), seems the most effortful, unspontaneous. In three Brahms intermezzos and Schumann’s Kinderszenen he tends to underline his own poetic sensitivity – lingering becomes dawdling. A vigorous Prokofiev Seventh Sonata hints at the uninhibitedly exciting artist Mogilevsky can surely be in concert circumstances. Indeed, these discs leave me feeling extremely keen to hear all four players live.

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