WORKS: Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2; Piano Quintet in G minor
PERFORMER: Martin Helmchen (piano); Pieter Schoeman, Vesselin Gellev (violin), Alexander Zemtsov (viola), Kristina Blaumane (cello); LPO/Vladimir Jurowski
CATALOGUE NO: LPO 0053
These highly acceptable accounts of the two Shostakovich piano concertos are live performances from the Royal Festival Hall in 2008 (No. 1) and 2009 (No. 2). The sound quality is excellent, and the young soloist Martin Helmchen shows himself adept in all aspects of No. 1’s quirky humour and satirical modernism, No. 2’s playful high spirits and – in the famous Andante – a nostalgic romanticism Rachmaninov might have been proud of. In No. 1 he’s ably seconded by Paul Beniston’s assertive and characterful trumpet playing. Altogether, these are enjoyable and safely recommendable versions of both works, though in No. 1, at least, I would not prefer Helmchen over the fiery duos of Leif Ove Andsnes and Håkan Hardenberger with the CBSO (EMI), or Martha Argerich and Sergei Nakariakov, also on EMI.