Notes and Editorial Reviews
VASSILY PRIMAKOV LIVE IN CONCERT
Vassily Primakov (pn)
LP CLASSICS 1004 (70: 15)
Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel.
We tend to evaluate music, especially the basic
repertoire, against the standard of the performances by which we came to know the work. Case in point, the Brahms
Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel
has long occupied my imagination via the lean, propulsive late in life recording of Rudolf Serkin. It so defined my way of hearing the music that this new live recording by Vassily Primakov put me off at first. It seemed almost garish, perhaps even self-indulgent, compared to the more ascetic Serkin. So I kept listening to Primakov, and soon it clicked; he is envisioning the music as symphonic. The grandly arched phrases, the beautiful range of color, the rhythmic breadth; these are the attributes of a great performance of a Brahms symphony. Vis-à-vis Serkin, this is a textbook example of the German (intellectual, ordered) versus the Slavic (emotional, virtuosic) schools of pianism.
The Schumann offered another example of how a fine artist can breathe life into music that may have been left for dead.
is a collection of early works that were later re-packaged for an eager publisher. It is not great Schumann, lacking the exquisite emotional complexity of
et al. In a recent review of the Hänssler series of the complete solo piano music of Schumann played by Florian Uhlig, I damned the work with my faint praise. Under Primakov’s hands, the music unfolds to reveal an intricate beauty that was always there, awaiting an artist with the requisite technical skill and imagination to awaken it. The brief Medtner is similarly luscious, and the Ravel is a glorious romp, not surprisingly.
Primakov should not be a new name to
readers, as he has been amply recorded and praised for his series of CDs for the Bridge label. LP Classics is a new company that Primakov started with fellow Moscow trained pianist (and fellow Juilliard student) Natalia Lavrova. Production values are excellent, and the engineers do a fine job of capturing Primakov’s broad, singing tone. It is a brave venture, in an era when hard copy CDs may be on the verge of extinction, but whatever the future of this new company, Primakov himself seems destined for a long and successful career as a one of our most satisfying and well-rounded pianists.
FANFARE: Peter Burwasser
Works on This Recording
La valse by Maurice Ravel
Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1920; France
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