Rachmaninoff: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

Rachmaninoff: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

by Leif Ove Andsnes
     
 
With Leif Ove Andsnes' 1995 recording of the Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto -- one of his first releases -- already inducted into EMI's Great Artists of the Century series, the sequel at hand is long overdue. And if Andsnes has sometimes been thought to have a rather cool approach to the Romantic repertoire, these performances of

Overview

With Leif Ove Andsnes' 1995 recording of the Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto -- one of his first releases -- already inducted into EMI's Great Artists of the Century series, the sequel at hand is long overdue. And if Andsnes has sometimes been thought to have a rather cool approach to the Romantic repertoire, these performances of Rachmaninoff's First and Second should lay that criticism to rest once and for all. These may not be the most fiery interpretations on disc, but the pianist's refusal to distort the music doesn't mean that there's a lack of impetuous ardor. Yet what sets these readings apart is the robust underpinning that supports Rachmaninoff's dreamy lyrical flights -- supplied not only by the soloist but also by Antonio Pappano's firm direction of the Berlin Philharmonic. Indeed, the orchestra's beautiful playing is scarcely less crucial to the success of this disc than the pianist's; Andsnes and Berlin make a highly sympathetic team, as their Grieg and Schumann disc has previously demonstrated. Somewhat ironically, while this recording of the Second Concerto comes from a live concert -- and a very fine one at that -- it's the First Concerto, captured in the studio the next day, that has even more heat-of-the-moment intensity, especially in the thrilling finale. But in both works, Andsnes dispatches the technical fireworks and the soaring melodies with equal flair, forcing the listener to concur with the enthusiastic "Bravo" that greets the end of the Second Concerto, even before the final chord dies away.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Patsy Morita
Pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and conductor Antonio Pappano work in tandem to give Rachmaninov's first two piano concertos zing and excitement. They bring out all the drama in these concertos, going full tilt where Rachmaninov calls for it, but they don't quite let it slip into hearts and flowers sentimentality in the slow movements. They keep these lyrical, with beautiful, touching expression and nuanced phrasing, just as the finales are dance-like and almost capricious at times. Rachmaninov's "Concertos No. 2" and "No. 3" greatly overshadow the "Concerto No. 1," so it is even more thrilling to hear it done so well and so rousingly. The balance between the piano and orchestra in this recording, both in the performance and in the sound are just as inspiring as the performance itself. There is a sense that although the piano is the star of the show, the orchestra has its own moments to shine. There are particular passages, such as two minutes into the opening of the "Concerto No. 2," where an interesting string accompaniment, usually buried far beneath the solo part, comes out clearly but not overwhelmingly. There are similar moments in the "Concerto No. 1" with the brass. Those moments are like finding new reasons to enjoy and appreciate something that's been experienced many, many times already.
Gramophone - Jeremy Nicholas
A worthy contender for the Top Ten when aided by the world-class Berlin Phil, a conductor who is in the Barbirolli class of adroit accompanists, superb recorded sound and a beautifully voiced piano.... The Second Concerto...is, similarly, given a Rolls-Royce reading with which only the pickiest could find fault.
Dallas Morning News - Scott Cantrell
Mr. Andsnes is one of the more thoughtful, expressive pianists around these days, and Mr. Pappano gets richly nuanced playing from the orchestra. Together, they supply a formidably competitive First Concerto, but a Second that doesn't always make the mark.
Classic FM Magazine - Jeremy Nicholas
Both performances press all the right buttons – nothing idiosyncratic or attention seeking, just high-class pianism...top-drawer orchestral contribution...and superb, stylish conducting.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/04/2005
Label:
Warner Classics
UPC:
0724347481321
catalogNumber:
74813

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Piano Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 1  - Sergey Rachmaninov  - Leif Ove Andsnes  -  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  - Antonio Pappano  - Paul Mitchell  - Paul Mitchell
  2. Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18  - Sergey Rachmaninov  - Leif Ove Andsnes  -  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  - Antonio Pappano  - Paul Mitchell  - Paul Mitchell

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