Britten: Piano Concerto; Matinées musicales; Soirées musicales

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LABELS: Ondine
WORKS: Piano Concerto; Matinées musicales; Soirées musicales
PERFORMER: Ralf Gothoni (piano)Helsingborg SO/Okko Kamu
The Finnish pianist Ralf Gothoni was the 1994 winner of the secretive, munificent Irving S Gilmore Artist Award (succeeding David Owen Norris). On his latest disc he has followed in Joanna MacGregor’s footsteps on Collins and has recorded the Britten Piano Concerto with both the original and the final version of the slow movement. The original ‘Recitative and Aria’ is a fascinating addendum to the concerto (though here placed third, necessitating use of the CD player’s programming control if you wish to hear the standard four movements uninterrupted), with its echoes of both Ravel and Rachmaninov. Britten’s concerto is a work full of contrasts of mood and Gothoni certainly does all five movements justice, though I would quibble about his excruciatingly slow and restrained presentation of the passacaglia theme in the Impromptu. Similarly, Okko Kamu takes the climax of the final March a little too haltingly, though he makes up for it in a sense in the marvellously sleazy way he takes the Waltz (second movement). The playing of the Helsingborg orchestra is wonderfully vibrant throughout and it provides lively and characterful fillers in the two Rossini suites. Preference in the concerto, however, remains overall with MacGregor. Matthew Rye