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Idiosyncractic Tchaikovsky, sublime Rachmaninov
on 28 October 2012
This is a very strange, but mesmerising, performance of the Tchaikovsky concerto. It is as if the performers had never heard the piece before in their lives, and are therefore thinking their way through it and discovering it for themselves. Some of it is very slow, and the pauses (for emphasis, or simply reflecting on an especially beautiful phrase) sometimes seem exaggerated. Yet I found myself hanging on every note, simply because, instead of barnstorming their way on this weathered old war-horse, both conductor and soloist seem utterly determined to discover the inner meaning of the music. In other words, it is the thinking man's (and woman's!) performance.
But, as other reviewers have already noted, one really buys this disc for the incredible, committed performance of the Rachmaninov. The slow movement is 'to die for' and, although I possess other interpretations of this piece (including the excellent version by Ashkenazy), I am beginning to doubt whether I shall ever listen to them again. Richter here is at his very best: demonic and poetic by turns (compare his never-to-be bettered performances of the two Liszt concertos, with Kondrashin and the LSO); but his contribution is easily matched by that of the Warsaw Philharmonic under Wislocki, even though these are scarcely household names in this country. Even allowing for my reservations about the Tchaikovsky, I could not possibly rate this CD at less than 5 stars. Buy it *now*, before it disappears from the lists again, possibly for ever.