Rachmaninov’s Etudes-tableaux and Moments musicaux performed by Boris Giltburg

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COMPOSERS: Rachmaninov
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Rachmaninov
WORKS: Etudes-tableaux; Moments musicaux
PERFORMER: Boris Giltburg (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.573469

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Since winning the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels in 2013, Boris Giltburg has impressed both in the concert hall and on recordings with the intelligence and colouristic magnificence of his playing. Turning here to two contrasting sets of Rachmaninov’s short pieces – the Moments musicaux of 1896 and the pictorial and dark-hued Etudes-tableaux, written 20 years later – he puts his very considerable powers at the service of the composer’s visionary imagination, conjuring a vivid range of textures that are superbly controlled. The Etudes-tableaux draw overtly on extra-musical inspirations, Rachmaninov himself having explained that their images range from ‘an incessant, hopeless drizzle’ in No. 7 to ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ in No. 6 – though a version that could well lend itself to some fearsome Freudian interpretation. Giltburg’s range of expression is suitably wide, his sense of involvement total even though he never loses his cool. A finely paced interpretation of the B minor Moment Musical begins with concentrated inwardness, building to a shattering climax, and the full-throttle E flat minor Etude-tableau is virtuoso pianism that never loses detail. Giltburg balances the voices in these rich textures with deft perspective; each note in a chord graded for colour and volume, giving a blended, multi-dimensional impression. If Rachmaninov envisaged landscapes, Giltburg turns them into sound-sculptures.

Jessica Duchen

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