Rachmaninov Shostakovich

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COMPOSERS: Rachmaninov Shostakovich
LABELS: Warner
ALBUM TITLE: Rachmaninov/Shostakovich
WORKS: Trio élégiaque in D minor; Piano Trio No. 2in E minor
PERFORMER: Dimitri Makhtin, Alexander Knaizev, Boris Berezovsky
CATALOGUE NO: 2564 61937 2
Despite its undoubted longueurs,


Rachmaninov’s Trio élégiaque can

sound mightily impressive in the

right hands. In this no-holds-barred

interpretation, Boris Berezovsky

demonstrates a masterly control of

the enormously demanding piano

part, revelling in the opportunities

to let rip at the most intense climaxes

but without in any way forcing the

tone or endangering the balance

between all three instruments. The

string players match Berezovsky

delivering sumptuous phrasing of

Rachmaninov’s sombre melodies

in the first movement, but also

supplying some wonderfully magical

textures in the more reflective sections

of the extended variations. These

ingredients, coupled with a finely

engineered recording, place this

performance almost on a par with

the classic 1984 Chandos version

from the Borodin Trio, though I find

the Borodin’s pacing of the second

movement slightly more convincing.

The Shostakovich, on the other

hand, receives a somewhat uneven

rendition. While admiring the venom

and virtuosity with which the players

attack the ironic scherzo, the

disembodied opening of the work

is far too slow in tempo and static

in phrasing and seems more like an

Adagio than the composer’s prescribed

Andante. Likewise, at the return of

this material at the climax to the finale,

the performers’ decision to opt for a

surprisingly deliberate tempo and some

cautious phrasing threatens to derail

the pent-up emotion that has built

up throughout the whole movement.

All in all, the performance doesn’t

hold me in thrall to the same extent

as that of some of the frontrunners in

the catalogue, most notably Elisabeth

Leonskaja with members of the

Borodin Quartet on Teldec, and

more recently the Trio Wanderer on


Harmonia Mundi. Erik Levi