Tchaikovsky
Piano Concerto No.1 in B flat minor, Op.23
Piano Concerto No.3 in E flat, Op.75
Tchaikovsky orch. Taneyev
Andante and Finale, Op.79
Konstantin Scherbakov (piano)

Russian Philharmonic Orchestra
Dmitry Yablonsky

Recorded in March 2003 in Studio No.5, KULTURA State TV & Radio Company, Moscow
CD No: NAXOS 6.110051 [CD/SACD]
Duration: 69 minutes
Reviewed: June 2004
Here is a musically straightforward account of the much played and abused Tchaikovsky No.1 that breathes fresh air into the piece and shows Tchaikovsky the respect he deserves.
Put simply, neither Konstantin Scherbakov (who wears his considerable virtuosity lightly) nor Dmitry Yablonsky has the remotest interest in false sentiment or false rhetoric. The famous majestic opening of No.1 is convincingly treated as an integral beginning to the first movement, the whole given with an all-told shape that is very satisfying. Scherbakov’s unforced brio, meltingly beautiful lyricism, delicacy, and sense of fantasy, add up to a sparkling performance, in which conductor and orchestra are willing and characterful partners. Not only does one admire the performers’ selflessness, one also falls for the concerto again.
This lack of preening and smash-and-grab is a real tonic, and determines an equally stimulating version of the Third Concerto, given extra substance here beyond its one-movement design by the adding of Sergey Taneyev’s sympathetic orchestration of the Andante and Finale. Scherbakov is once more unfailingly shapely and immaculate, playing with real dash and feeling, and Yablonsky’s lively, detailed and pointed accompaniment adds to the pleasure. The first movement’s eloquent second subject is deeply felt, just as the vivacious, dithyrambic third subject is rhythmically exact. The Andante ripples with feeling, and the Finale, not the most inspired music that Tchaikovsky wrote, is rendered with panache, the side drum adding a precise military beat to the proud ending.
A superb release, then, one sounding excellent, the SACD format, two channels, seeming a tad more dimensional, less ‘recorded’ than the CD track. Hopefully a release from this team of the second concerto (uncut!) and the Concert Fantasy is planned.

 

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