Rachmaninov: Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor; Preludes Op. 3/2, Op. 23 & Op. 32

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COMPOSERS: Rachmaninov
LABELS: EMI
ALBUM TITLE: Rachmaninov – Trpceski
WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor; Preludes Op. 3/2, Op. 23 & Op. 32
PERFORMER: Simon Trpceski
CATALOGUE NO: 557 9432
Nearly three years ago the young

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Macedonian pianist Simon Trp?eski

(pronounced ‘Trrp-cheski’, born in

1979) won widespread acclaim for

his EMI debut disc which featured a

stunning performance of Prokofiev’s

Sixth Sonata, coupled with equally

impressive accounts of Scriabin’s

Fifth Sonata and Stravinsky’s Three

Movements from Petrushka. He has

now followed this up with an equally

compelling and warmly recorded

all-Rachmaninov recital. His playing

here fully confirms the critical hype

that has accompanied all his concert

performances since the appearance of

that first release.

The programme is cleverly

designed to demonstrate Trp?eski’s

searing interpretative powers

and pianistic range to their best

advantage. Throughout he simply

mesmerises the listener with playing

of extraordinary brilliance and

luminosity. It’s almost impossible

not to be overwhelmed from the very

outset by the imperious manner in

which he dispatches the powerful

cascade of notes that make up the

B flat major Prelude, Op.23 No.2.

Likewise, Trp?eski manages to bring

a sense of freshness and vitality to

such tried and tested favourites as

the G minor and C sharp minor

preludes, but without in any way

sacrificing their grandeur.

At the opposite end of the

dynamic spectrum he can be magical

and hypnotic, as in the transcription

of the song entitled ‘Siren’ and the

G sharp minor Prelude, Op. 32

No.12, or warm and tender as in the

transcription of Tchaikovsky’s

Lullaby. Perhaps his execution of

the notoriously difficult transcription

of the Scherzo from Mendelssohn’s

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is

not quite as delicate as in some

other performances (not least

Rachmaninov’s own on RCA),

but Trp?eski makes up for this by

delineating the harmonic tension

of the piece with considerable

poetic sensitivity.

Without doubt the most arresting

performance of all is that of the

Second Sonata. For once the decision

to perform the somewhat truncated

1931 revision seems entirely justified,

such is Trp?eski’s sure sense of

structural direction with which he

shapes each movement. Equally

notable is the brilliant manner in

which he manages to voice the inner

melodic lines in Rachmaninov’s

complex piano writing. But above

all, he has the absolute measure of

the music’s emotional core, bringing

a restless uncertainty to the opening

movement and knowing exactly

when to apply rubato to the greatest

impact .There is no relaxation of

intensity in the slow movement, with

even the more reflective passages

sounding gloomy and unsettled. But

this actually helps to place the finale

into even greater dramatic relief, as

Trp?eski drives us headlong through

all the trials and tribulations of the

movement towards a breathless

yet ultimately exhilarating and

triumphant coda. To be sure, there

are many other fine recordings of this

work from the likes of Ashkenazy (on

Decca) and Earl Wild (on Chesky)

in the current catalogue. But none

to my mind approach the piece with

such immediacy and sheer physical

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excitement as Trp?eski.