Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2; Piano Concerto No. 3

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COMPOSERS: Rachmaninov
LABELS: Mirare
ALBUM TITLE: Rachmaninov – Piano Concertos
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 2; Piano Concerto No. 3
PERFORMER: Boris Berezovsky (piano); Ural PO/Dmitri Liss
CATALOGUE NO: MIR 008
So much thought and individuality have been poured into recent recordings of these concertos –

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from the charge of Stephen Hough (on Hyperion) to the breadth of Lang Lang (on DG) – that it’s hard to adjust to penny-plain virtuosity. You always expect Berezovsky to do something more daring with that phenomenal technique of his; but

at best – in the first movement of the Third Concerto – his weightiness remains unenlightened by purely musical insights, and more often those over-familiar lyric themes

pass without sufficient inflection.

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Dmitri Liss, conducting the competent Ural Philharmonic Orchestra, seems even less in sympathy with the big tunes: the opening theme of the Second Concerto’s first movement seems oddly static without those hairpin surges of string sound, and the finale’s big tune stays unpardonably flat-featured. Taking more of a back seat to the soloist in the Third Concerto, Liss keeps the monster more helpfully on its toes, and the first-movement development for once does not seem excessive; it’s no surprise that Berezovsky then opts for the more complex of Rachmaninov’s two cadenzas. But there is little here of the intelligence which underpins Lugansky’s far more interesting golden mean. The recording, made in Metz’s handsome concert hall, keeps the elements in decent balance, but the orchestral sound is curiously disembodied. David Nice