WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor; Piano Concerto No. 4 in G minor
PERFORMER: Mikhail Rudy (piano)St Petersburg PO/Mariss Jansons
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 55188 2 DDD
This is the first disc I have come across that expects you to be able to programme your CD player. Rachmaninov’s Fourth Piano Concerto was a terrible flop when first performed in 1927, so he rewrote large chunks of it. EMI has kindly given us the choice, one after the other, between two versions of the last movement. The original is a trifle ungainly and introduces a note of querulous uncertainty amid some novel orchestral textures. The later (1941) version, the one we expect to hear today, is shorter, better argued and a great deal closer to the Rachmaninov of the earlier concertos.
The teenage First Concerto was also largely rewritten (about 25 years later), but not under the pall of failure. So we are offered only one version here. Mikhail Rudy delivers glitter and flamboyance by the bucketful. Both performances have an exuberance that challenges the reputation of these two concertos as the least popular of the four. Were it not for sour intonation in the brass and woodwind that keeps on drawing attention to itself, I would rate these recordings very highly. Christopher Lambton