Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos 1 & 4; Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini – review

Simon Trpceski (piano), Royal Liverpool Philharmonic/ Petrenko

These concertos span Rachmaninov's career, from his farewell to Russia (the piano concerto No 1 of 1891) to his uneasy exile in the new world, where he encountered 1920s jazz and big bands but wrote works which were understood neither as old or new (his piano concerto No 4 of 1927). Eventually he had success with his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, premiered in Baltimore in 1934. According to the CD essay, the baleful pianist-composer downed a crème de menthe before every performance – not, as far as one can tell, a requirement here. The virtuosi Macedonian Simon Trpčeski and St Petersburg-born Vasily Petrenko combine in taut, poetic performances with notably coruscating brass playing from an RLPO on impressive and expressive form.


Fiona Maddocks

The GuardianTramp

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