Rimsky-Korsakov/Tchaikovsky

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COMPOSERS: Rimsky-Korsakov/Tchaikovsky
LABELS: Telarc
WORKS: Piano Concerto; Symphony No. 3 in D
PERFORMER: Jeffrey Campbell (piano)RPO/Gilbert Levine
CATALOGUE NO: CD-80454
In the league table of Tchaikovsky’s symphonies, the Third, despite being composed with flair and occasional brilliance, probably comes at the bottom. Its virtues are, however, scarcely apparent in this shapeless and insensitive performance. Conductor Gilbert Levine passes by much that is imaginative in the score without a second glance. There are many untidy moments, and some undistinguished tone from the RPO.

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The companion-piece, Rimsky-Korsakov’s rare Piano Concerto of 1882-3, draws on a Lisztian model for a one-movement work based on a single theme (a folksong) treated to processes of transformation. Sadly, thematic development was not Rimsky’s line, though his strong sense of colour helps titivate a piece whose lyrical moments would not shame Tchaikovsky.

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Believing that the concerto’s neglect is due to the inherent inadequacies of Rimsky’s cadenza, nimble-fingered soloist Jeffrey Campbell replaces it here with a much longer and somewhat magniloquent sample of his own devising. It’s undeniably a skilful substitute, though I doubt whether it will be enough to alter the work’s long-term prospects. George Hall