Tchaikovsky/Grieg: Piano Concerto No. 1; Piano Concerto

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COMPOSERS: Tchaikovsky/Grieg
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 1; Piano Concerto
PERFORMER: Peter Jablonski (piano)Philharmonia Orchestra/Peter Maag
After impressive releases of works by Shostakovich, Rachmaninov and Gershwin, Peter Jablonski has certainly taken the bull by the horns by recording two of the most familiar piano concertos in the repertoire. It’s a bold undertaking for the young, gifted Swedish virtuoso, and he demonstrates complete technical mastery of both works. Yet neither performance offers sufficient interpretative insight to compete with the finest in the catalogue. In the first movement of the Tchaikovsky, Jablonski is hampered by some rather pedestrian orchestral playing from the Philharmonia, and at times rapport between soloist and conductor is none too secure. What I miss here are those flashes of imagination that made Nikolai Demidenko’s recent recording of the work for Hyperion such a revelatory experience.


Jablonski’s Grieg, on the other hand, is better and offers some intermittently sensitive playing. And Peter Maag shapes the orchestral accompaniment with a greater degree of characterisation. One special moment occurs immediately after the cadenza in the first movement, where Maag brings a surprising degree of pathos to the string melody. I wish there were a few more passages of this quality. Erik Levi