Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto no.3, Corelli Variations
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Cat No: 8573630
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: 11th May 2018
WorksPiano Concerto no.3 in D minor, op.30
Variations on a theme of Corelli, op.42
ArtistsBoris Giltburg (piano)
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
ConductorCarlos Miguel Prieto
The previous release of Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto (8573629) by Giltburg, the RSNO and Prieto was a Gramophone Choice and included in the magazine’s Top 10 Rachmaninov recordings. Critic Geoffrey Norris wrote: “The fusion of freshness with generous spirit and soul lends an enthralling dynamism to this familiar repertoire. Meanwhile American Record Guide wrote: “this is a very romantic performance and has to join the best ones on my shelf.”
Known for his charismatic conducting, dynamism and expressive interpretations, Carlos Miguel Prieto is one of Mexico’s leading conductors.
1Piano Concerto no.3 op.30 - I. Allegro ma non tanto
2Piano Concerto no.3 op.30 - II. Intermezzo: Adagio - Un poco piu mosso
3Piano Concerto no.3 op.30 - III. Finale: Alla breve
4Variations on a Theme of Corelli, op.42
In the expertly paced first movement, Giltburg and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Carlos Miguel Prieto immediately bring out the Russian character of the main subject group, Giltburg knowing exactly when to step back to allow orchestral detail through. The music’s succession of waves is superbly unfolded, but it is the depth of textural detail revealed by soloist and orchestra that is most impressive here, from delicate tracery to felicitous woodwind solos. Technically, too, Giltburg is second to none, imposing but consistently sensitive to the music’s beauties.
The central Intermezzo - actually a succession of variations - is beautifully judged, with an almost vocal quality to its intensely wistful musings, the advanced chromatic harmonies of the piano’s outbursts relished down to the tiniest detail. Yet it, too, has a narrative sweep that carries the music inexorably forward, so that when the Alla breve Finale eventually bursts into action, it comes as both a jolt and the realisation of a grander inevitability. Here Giltburg, superbly supported by Prieto and the RNSO, is really in his element, darting nimbly about the keyboard with abandon but without feeling in the least bit rushed. As in the rest of the concerto, the finely focused recording delivers richness in the bass without loss of detail in the middle textures or brilliance at the top. Most importantly, the performers keep the music’s arc alive from the very start of the first movement to the work’s glorious closing pages. For those in search of more than just virtuosic dazzle, this is an immensely satisfying reading of Rachmaninov’s own favourite among his concertos, and Naxos does soloist and orchestra proud: full credit to producer Andrew Keener and engineer Phil Rowlands as well!
The other work featured here is an intensely rewarding account of the Variations on a Theme of Corelli, op.42. Recorded in the Concert Hall of Wyastone Estate, this is a richly textured reading in which Giltburg brings out the often starkly contrasting characters of each variation on the famous ‘Folia’ theme but keeps consistently in view the work’s broader architecture. Here again, he effortlessly balances the architectonic and narrative aspects, holding the listener spellbound as the variations gradually coalesce into significant groups. This is a ‘cooler’ work than the concerto, but in this performance it is no less compelling, and it makes for a hugely impressive coupling.
In sum, this release is well up to the standards already set by Giltburg in his previous Rachmaninov discs, and connoisseurs might well come to regard it as the finest of the bunch. At the price, it’s certainly an astonishing bargain, and should be required listening for anyone who loves this music.
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