Neither Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 2 nor his Paganini Variations are exactly under-recorded, but this disc has a good deal going for it. Anna Vinnitskaya brings to both works a clarity of articulation that makes the passages high up the keyboard sound weightless, like something Mendelssohn would write for Puck or Titania. Further down the keyboard things gain in density, and though Vinnitskaya is always poised she can sound a little clinical.
The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra plays with an old-school glow and solidity for Krzysztof Urbanski. While his changes of tempo can be sudden they never seem dangerous, and for all its urgency the concerto’s passion seems constrained – although the second movement is strikingly unhackneyed, played like a lullaby in which the melody is suspended above flowing notes that roll on and on. The episodic Variations suit the cool, controlled approach better, and it’s here that both Vinnitskaya and the orchestra shine.