Musorgsk ¥ Rachmaninov

COMPOSERS: Musorgsk,Rachmaninov
LABELS: Hanssler
ALBUM TITLE: Musorgsky , Rachmaninov
WORKS: Pictures at an Exhibition • 6 Moments musicaux
PERFORMER: Lilya Zilberstein (piano)
A meditative quality weaves its way through Lilya Zilberstein’s latest Russian programme, signalled by the quiet, assured start with Rachmaninov’s B flat minor Moment musical. Her gallery-goer – Musorgsky himself, of course, at his late friend Hartmann’s posthumous exhibition – strides spaciously with innate nobility and responds with sensitivity to the more sombre pictures; the fourth Promenade, subtly done after the heavyweight picture of Polish labour in ‘Bydlo’ slips surprisingly into a featherlight ‘Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks’. The less fortunate of Musorgsky’s ‘Two Jews, One Rich, One Poor’ is soulfully handled; if Ravel had ever heard playing like this, he would surely not have given the solo to wheedling muted trumpet in his version for orchestra. Zilberstein stops a little short of the fantastical idiosyncrasy so welcome in newcomer Boris Giltburg’s Pictures (reviewed in the July 2006 issue), a performance which runs the classic Richter account close for characterisation. But she offers one oddity that seems a little puzzling: a halting account of ‘The Old Castle’, more absorbed in the shadows cast on ancient walls than what surely ought to be the lilting song of the troubadour standing before the castle. And the macabre voltage of the nutcracker-gnome and flying witch Baba Yaga is rather low. Still, Zilberstein certainly has the massive tone necessary for ‘The Great Gate at Kiev’, and her Rachmaninov playing makes no meal out of the forest of notes. The elaboration of the second Moment musical never sounds florid, and even in a numbers as technically formidable as No. 6, the essential argument is naturally to the fore. David Nice