Notes and Editorial Reviews
An elegant and wonderfully attractive reading of the Tchaikovsky Concerto, followed by a virtuosic Prokofiev and an uproarious Balakirev.
In 1989, Andrei Gavrilov recorded with Vladimir Ashkenazy a version of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto in B flat minor that I describe here as “fiercely engaged,” its last movement played at a headlong tempo that I at the time found “thrilling, even if, finally, a bit suspect.” That astonishing performance, the fastest I know, certainly has stuck in my memory. That said, this disc contains a much more traditional recording made a decade earlier by the already virtuosic pianist. It’s a more comfortable, elegant, performance—wonderfully attractive. And, in case readers are worried, the
last movement of the Tchaikovsky is still very fast, the lyrical moments pushed a little, and the orchestra challenged.
It is followed by equally compelling recordings of Prokofiev and Balakirev. Gavrilov revels in his own virtuosity. So did Prokofiev, whose First Concerto, written when Prokofiev was still a student, was meant to demonstrate his pianistic flash, and so was Balakirev, whose Islamey is given a virtually uproarious reading. That’s exactly what Balakirev seems to have wanted: I don’t know and can’t imagine a more spectacular performance than this one, which is also found (with the Prokofiev Concerto) on Gavrilov’s “Great Pianists of the 20th Century” discs. I also admire Gavrilov’s playing of the relatively tender Tchaikovsky Theme and Variations.
FANFARE: Michael Ullman
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Piano no 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Andrei Gavrilov (Piano)
Notes: Composition written: Russia (1874 - 1875).
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Murky April 19, 2013
By Gary Mitchell (Independence, KS) See All My Reviews
"The Tchaikovsky recording isn't very well recorded, in my opinion, Gavrilov's piano sounds lost in the tumult of the orchestra. I also found Gavrilov's interpretation a bit mannered. There are times he slows down unnecessarily in the first movement. The Prokofiev sounds better but isn't nearly as attractive a piece as the Tchaikovsky. Speaking of Tchaikovsky, the encore piece by Tchaikovsky doesn't sing and has little to recommend it except its rarity. Balakirev's "Islamey" gives and gets a good workout."