Rhapsodies by Gershwin, Enescu, Ravel, Liszt and Chabrier

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COMPOSERS: Chabrier,Enescu,Gershwin,Liszt,Ravel
LABELS: BR Klassik
WORKS: Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue; Enescu: Romanian Rhapsody No. 1; Ravel: Rapsodie Espagnole; Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2; Chabrier: España
PERFORMER: Denis Matsuev (piano); Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Mariss Jansons


The Bavarian Radio Symphony has maintained its distinctive sound over many years: texturally transparent yet alluring, with lithe, sparkling violins, a bass end of unusual depth and clarity, agile, fine-tuned brass and mellifluous woodwind. Those qualities are to the fore in a programme of popular classics recorded live in October 2015.

An inspired orchestral trainer as well as first-rate conductor, Mariss Jansons obtains playing of cultivated ease from the Bavarians that is precise and meticulously balanced. There is a certain trade-off in Chabrier’s España, which although brimming with urbane charm and musical sophistication, is kept under control, making the abrupt final accelerando feel out of place. The fleet-fingered Denis Matsuev does the honours in Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, although the results are more Carnegie Hall than Tin-Pan Alley. 

Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody No. 1 and Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 are given glowing performances, with lashings of Viennese bonhomie. However, the potential sense of danger that the music might any moment whirl away into oblivion is muted. Ravel’s achingly sensuous Rapsodie espagnole receives the finest performance here, infused with infectious warmth that is sensually beguiling.


Julian Haylock