Rachmaninov Third Concerto

0 of 5 stars

Piano Concerto No.3 in D minor, Op.30
The Isle of the Dead, Op.29

Andreas Jetter (piano)

Philharmonia Moldova
Dietrich Schöller-Manno

Recorded live in the Concert Hall of the Iasi State Philharmonic, Romania – September 1997 (Concerto) and February 1999

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: September 2004
BM-CD 31.9203
Duration: 65 minutes

In the great scheme of things, the line-up for these oft-recorded works is not likely to catch the attention of general purchasers of CDs. But, in truth, these are distinctive and likeable performances that, while not disturbing existing recommendations for either piece, certainly warrant attention and a place in the collections for anyone who loves this music.

Recorded live in the years specified, although without applause, it seems that Antes Edition is issuing these performances for the first time. The recorded sound is excellent with a well-judged balance between the piano and the orchestra, and the orchestra itself is given a spacious and detailed sound-picture.

The performance of the concerto is voluble, ardent, and sensitively phrased. The German pianist Andreas Jetter has a fine technical command, and while he can be too emphatic and his fingers are a little lacking in poise at times, he is also very sympathetic to the music, not least its volatility, and brings off a generally idiomatic rendition that is fresh and lively. This seems a genuinely live, one-off performance, that is with no post-concert patching, otherwise a few wrong notes would have been corrected, hopefully. Jetter dispatches the longer and more difficult of Rachmaninov’s two cadenzas with considerable aplomb, and Dietrich Schöller-Manno captures some vivid, Slavic playing from the orchestra. There is much to like here, and also a few things that detract, not least an occasional lack of composure from the soloist who also contrives some not always convincing chord balances. Enjoyable overall, though, especially so in the finale, which is animated and has plenty of flexibility to encompass the more reflective moments.

The Isle of the Dead is given a spacious reading, maybe one too dour even for the subject matter; certainly Schöller-Manno captures the lugubrious of the work, it’s doleful oar-strokes and the slow-moving waves, and he produces some unanimous work from the orchestra, not least the violins in their exposed, quiet moments. No doubting though that the conductor has a feel for the long-term aspects of the work, climaxes being worked towards and unleashed with great control and vibrancy.

An interesting pair of performances that are well worth hearing. By the way, the town of Iasi was the birthplace of the great conductor Sergiu Celibidache

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