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A disc worthy to be ranked amongst the greats,
This review is from: Etudes-Tableaux op.39 - Variations on a theme of Corelli op. 42 (Audio CD)
Here is a find indeed, and I mean the combination of Alexander Romanovsky and Rachmaninov. This disc, extremely well recorded in 2008, is the second that I have bought of this new star in the firmament of young pianistic talent. His calling card on disc was a recording of Brahms and Schumann which was very fine indeed but here he is on home ground with music that gets to the Russian soul.
This music is intensely compelling with ingredients of epic splendour, exultation and chiming bells contrasted with vast empty spaces, depths of loneliness and desolation, longing, and above all, passion. All of these conflicting images and sensations are woven together in ways that not only require prodigious technique and large hands, but also an essential empathy with the interior of the russian psyche. Or at least that is how it seems to me!
This is music that has a large place in my collection. Generally the best, most convincing performances, come from Russian pianists, either born or bred or both. Ashkenazy was the first to enlighten me in these regards. Richter gave us a wonderful set of the op 39 in 1983 and in good sound too. All future discs came to be judged by that survey. Those who passed the op 39 test include Gavrilov's few, Lugansky's whole survey in 1992 and Paterson-Olenich's complete set in 2007. Outstanding Corelli Variations include Ashkenazy of course but also Rodriguez in 1994 and Pletnev in 1998.
Even in the company of such exalted pianists and fine recordings, if I were unlucky enough to be sent to that fabled desert island with just one recording of these works, I would be very tempted to make it this one by Romanovsky. He seems to have everything including the best recorded sound of all.
In conclusion I would suggest that, no matter how many other recordings you have of these works, this disc deserves to be considered most seriously as one more to be added. For those starting out, this could well be the ideal introduction to some of Rachmaninov's best solo piano works, all played and recorded almost beyond compare.