Sergei Rachmaninov - Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 3

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SERGEI RACHMANINOV - Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 3 - Simon Trpceski (Piano) - Vasily Petrenko (Conductor) - Royal Liverpool Philharmonic - 822252219227 - Avie AV2192

I always approach a new recording with a certain level of trepidation, good and bad, and most of the time 99% of that trepidation is a fear of disappointment. So when I cracked open this CD, that apprehensiveness was very high. After all, the works on this recording are two of the world's most famous, most noteworthy, most significant Piano Concertos ever written. And the two artists performing these demanding pieces, the Macedonian pianist Simon Trpceski and Russian conductor Vasily Petrenko, are both up and coming musicians who are leading the pack of new fresh talent, and both already have very impressive recordings behind them. Within a few short years, they have already raised the bar and established strong reputations. Therefore being the pessimist that I am, I reasoned that both of them working together on these wonderful concertos was too good to be true, and that I should brace myself for a major downer.

POOF! My fears went up in a puff of smoke within seconds into the first page of the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18 by Sergei Rachmaninov. As if of one mind and soul, the pianist and conductor perform this work with both a sense of discovery and excitement, and the feeling of slipping on old gloves. Their give and take, rubato, dynamics, tempos, pushing forward and holding back, all of these seem to happen instinctively. Nothing is done for show or to excess, but you can tell the emotions run high. The same goes for the Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30. The so-called 'Rach 3', considered the most difficult and demanding piece of music, presenting monumental challenges and requiring Herculean strenght from the pianist in particular. What we get here is an epic rendition. And even though the scale of this work is large, Simon Trpceski does not skimp on details. His playing is very much like that of Sviatoslav Richter. All the detailed work, all the notes, even the ones in the left hand, everything is clear. He doesn't blur anything for the sake of speed. All of his previous solo recital recordings were excellent and working with an orchestra doesn't seem to distract him one bit. This Avie recording is Trpceski's first concerto CD and its truly remarkable. It seems that the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and Rachmaninov's other two concertos are already planned for release in due time.

I for one can't wait to feel that apprehension and trepidation once again!

Jean-Yves Duperron