Piano Concerto No.2 in G, Op.44
Concert Fantasy, Op.56
Konstantin Scherbakov (piano)
Russian Philharmonic Orchestra
Recorded 5-9 May 2005 in Studio No.5, KULTURA State TV & Radio Company, Moscow
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: May 2007
CD No: NAXOS 8.557824
Duration: 69 minutes
Following on the refreshingly direct accounts from this team of Tchaikovsky’s First and Third Concertos, the large-scale Second receives a more variable (and variably recorded) performance that nevertheless makes much of the music’s dynamism and drama. There are some expressive solos from members of the orchestra and Konstantin Scherbakov plays with both heroism and sensitivity, taking the limelight when appropriate and melding with the orchestra at other times. He plays with dash and vigour and an exciting pulse is set for first movement; the cadenzas are strategically realised (not least the outsize third one) as well as being outbursts of display and, elsewhere, Scherbakov’s noble phrasing and Dmitry Yablonsky’s balletic pointing of detail make for an enjoyable combination.
The second movement includes lengthy solos for violin (Andrey Kudryavtsev, although he’s only credited to track 5, erroneously as it turns out, the second movement of Concert Fantasy) and cello (one Dmitri Yablonsky – dubbed in, played ‘live’ while conducting or a different musician of the same name?) that are heard before the pianist plays. It’s a lovely movement, not far away in eloquence to Tchaikovsky’s famous Andante cantabile. It’s a shame that a cut is made towards the end; it is, apparently, one approved by the composer; but better, surely, to allow Tchaikovsky his unabridged design, but at least Siloti’s ‘hacked’ version of the work as whole wasn’t used. The finale is a bit of a scamper, rather hectic in fact, and compromising of detail – Gilels and Svetlanov have this movement ideally paced – but it’s a lively ending!
Concert Fantasy is, as the title suggests, music of much variety. It’s a likeable work full of colour and melody. The beginning of the second movement is especially haunting, the pianist’s melancholic tune receiving yet more soul when cellist Yablonsky joins in. It’s not all gloom, though, for Cossacks turn up for a lively dance and the coda is coruscating.
It’s good to have these two ‘Cinderella’ works on one disc. If Naxos’s price-point introduces them to a wider audience then that will be satisfaction enough.