Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 3; Vocalise; Prelude in B flat Op. 23/2

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COMPOSERS: Rachmaninov
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 3; Vocalise; Prelude in B flat Op. 23/2
PERFORMER: Evgeny Kissin (piano); Boston SO/Seiji Ozawa
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 61548 2 DDD
Evgeny Kissin made his name at the age of 16 with his recording of Rachmaninov’s Second Concerto. Now, some six years later and still not quite 22, he has tackled the formidable Third, arguably one of the most difficult concertos in the repertoire. He easily proves its equal, opting for the most demanding of the composer’s many alternative solo passages and boldly daring to record the work live in concert (the final applause provides the only audible clue to an audience’s presence). The sense of a live occasion is further captured by the inclusion of a pair of encores: a soulful Vocalise and tempestuous B flat Prelude Op. 23/2.


Kissin plays the concerto with the authority, skill and insight of someone twice his age, yet his youthfulness lends his performance real exuberance and spontaneity. Similarly, he avoids any temptation to wallow for too long in the work’s more sugary, nostalgic passages, concentrating instead on a natural, unforced sense of emotion.


The recorded balance is close to the ideal, with, as it were, the piano sitting on a ‘cushion’ of orchestral sound – itself a wonderfully refined contribution from Ozawa and the Boston SO, only let down by the occasional lack of clarity in fluid inner parts. Matthew Rye