Notes and Editorial Reviews
Rachmaninoff was reputedly a very kindly man beneath his reserved surface. Ruth Slenczynska told me once that when, as a child prodigy, she visited the composer/pianist in his home, he insisted on serving tea to the three of them: Slenczynska, Rachmaninoff himself, and her doll. But when it came to writing for his personal instrument, the musician largely forgot the limitations of lesser mortals within his profession. He composed predominantly for himself, a pianist whose hands could easily encompass an interval of a 13th, and whose technical armor was impervious to assault. Nor is that all; for it?s not enough to simply play the notes. With Rachmaninoff, there is
also a need to understand and speak his stylistic language with authority. Few pianists can do the first, and fewer still can manage both.
Boris Berezovsky is among those that can. Currently in his mid-thirties, he trained with Elisso Virssaladze at the Moscow Conservatory, and privately with Alexander Satz. He won a gold medal in the 1990 Tchaikovsky International Competition, and has made the rounds on the premier concert trails. His repertoire displays a preference for the Romantic mainstream, with a Russian extension that includes the formidable likes of Balakirev, Medtner, and Rachmaninoff. Focusing in this album upon the last, he makes me wish this were the beginning of a series, rather than a one-off.
There is no question that Berezovsky has a well-developed gift for the emotionally derived rhetoric of this music. Each prelude is conceived in terms of bold dynamics and tempos, with much risk-taking that involves little or no risk at all if you already have the technique solidly to hand. Rubato is reasonably applied on an individual basis, so that while the 10th Prelude of the second set uses it subtly if pervasively, the famous Prelude in C
Minor almost completely abandons it in favor of a reading that concentrates simply but effectively on clarity, balance, and sonority.
Recently, I?ve reviewed a couple of discs that were compromised by pianists exhibiting only a right hand. Not that they were missing the left physically?but their playing with the left, while technically competent, was both colorless and constantly recessed behind the primacy of the right. Berezovsky?s left hand is one of the greatest joys of this album, and a rare enough matter these days to call to attention. The Sixth Prelude from the first set displays it in a web of fleet and delicately spun filigree, while the Fourth Prelude reveals it working as an equal with the right in creating a constantly shifting scene of light and shade. Inner voices are never shortchanged, and massive chords are as likely to be led by the bass?as they frequently are, in Russian folk and sacred choirs?as they are by the melody in the treble.
The sound quality is excellent, clear, and close. There?s a reasonably good essay on the works, and most generous timings. What more do you need? If you like Rachmaninoff, buy this CD.
FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
Works on This Recording
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