I used mostly my ears

a blog about music by Marc Haegeman


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Boris Berezovsky’s Tchaikovsky

Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky:
Piano Concerto #2 in G Major, Op. 44
Theme & Variations, Op. 19 #6
Pieces for Piano, Op. 40 #2,5,6,7,8
Valse sentimentale, Op. 51 #6 *
Andante cantabile, from String Quartet, Op. 11 *

Boris Berezovsky, piano
* Henri Demarquette, cello
Sinfonia Varsovia/Alexander Vedernikov
Mirare 200 DDD 72m

Berezovsky plays Tchaikovsky

Berezovsky plays Tchaikovsky

Unlike its ubiquitous predecessor, Tchaikovsky’s Second Piano Concerto (1880) never achieved much popularity. It’s a brilliant, at times fiendishly difficult, and optimistic work (especially for Tchaikovsky), but from the beginning its length was criticized, just as much as its most original feature, the lyrical Andante non troppo which the composer transformed into a sort of triple concerto for violin, cello and piano – contemporary to Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto. Curiously, while some pianists like Emil Gilels and Shura Cherkassky made performing the G major into something of a specialty, others who left their mark on the First Concerto ignored it completely (Sviatoslav Richter, Vladimir Horowitz, Martha Argerich, among others). The Second Concerto was virtually always recorded in its heavily abridged version published posthumously by pianist Alexander Siloti – and containing edits Tchaikovsky never approved of. The most drastic cuts precisely affect the Andante non troppo. It wasn’t before the mid-1980s (thanks to pianists like Viktoria Postnikova and Peter Donohoe) that the original, uncut version became part of standard recording practice.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Richter’s Rachmaninoff

Sergei Rachmaninoff:
Piano Concerto #1
Piano Concerto #2 *
Prelude, Op. 23 #1
Prelude, Op. 32 #9
Prelude, Op. 32 #10
Prelude, Op. 32 #12

Sviatoslav Richter, piano
USSR Radio and TV State Symphony Orchestra/Kurt Sanderling
* Leningrad Symphonic Orchestra/Kurt Sanderling
Praga Digitals SACD PRD350056 Hybrid Stereo

Sviatoslav Richter

Historic Rachmaninoff

In spite of his gigantic recorded legacy Sviatoslav Richter left us relatively little Rachmaninoff. Of the famous concertos he only recorded the First and Second, and not even that many times. Hearing these Russian live documents from the 1950’s again, reissued by the Czech label Praga Digitals (the first in yet another “Richter Edition”), can but increase our regrets he didn’t return to them more often.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Volodos in Brussels

Franz Schubert: Piano Sonata #16 in A minor, D. 784
Johannes Brahms: 3 Intermezzi, Op. 117
Franz Liszt: Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178

Arcadi Volodos, piano
Brussels, Centre for Fine Arts, 11 October 2011

With the previous week’s media attention and box-office success of Lang Lang fresh in mind, the concert hall in the Brussels’ Bozar/Centre for Fine Arts looked sadly empty with only two-thirds of the seats taken for the Arcadi Volodos recital. While 39-year old Volodos is at least as much the jaw-dropping technician, we know he doesn’t come to town with the extra-musical gigs that the Chinese superstar package contains. And even if his pianism doesn’t eschew the occasional bit of ostentation either, it hasn’t become oddball. Volodos’ stage manner is unassuming and ritualistically simple. After each piece he can be seen standing behind the piano, arms crossed in front, sharing a timid but content smile and a stiff bow. All through the concert stage and piano remain in pure Sviatoslav Richter-style sparsely lit while the hall is bathing in darkness. But it is Volodos who sheds the light for the evening with his playing, or rather the light in all its shades ranging from solar brightness to abysmal darkness.
Read the full review on Classical Net