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DVD-Audio Review

Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky

Piano Concertos

  • Piano Concerto #1 in B Flat minor, Op. 23
  • Piano Concerto #3 in E Flat Major, Op. 75
  • Andante and Finale, Op. 79 (orchestrated by Taneyev)
Konstantin Scherbakov, piano
Russian State Symphony Orchestra/Dmitry Yablonsky
Naxos 5.110051 DVD-Audio Dolby Digital, DTS
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Also released on Hybrid SACD 6.110051
Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan

In their other recent collaboration on Naxos, the Rachmaninoff Second and Third Piano Concertos, Scherbakov and Yablonsky are less compelling. Here, the pianist again eschews virtuosity in his quest for interpretive sensitivity, but this time succeeds handsomely. This Tchaikovsky First is grand and big, filled with power and majesty, all captured in brilliant sonics by Naxos. Thus, you won't find the blazing octave passages and dazzling digital work of Argerich and Gavrilov here, but you will get beautiful playing by both the pianist and orchestra.

Naxos SACD 10051

Tempos are generally moderate in all three movements and the whole is thoroughly enjoyable, in the end yielding one of the finer recordings in recent decades of this oft-recorded warhorse. While this performance may not displace classic efforts by Cliburn and Argerich, it certainly is worth the attention of novices or of veteran listeners who are unafraid of adding yet another Tchaikovsky First to their shelves.

The E Flat Major Third gets a splendid performance too, but the work, for all its charm, isn't quite top-drawer Tchaikovsky. The Andante and Finale, in the realization by Taneyev, is an interesting bonus here, but again not a great piece. Still, Scherbakov and Yablonsky make an excellent case for the work.

The sound is excellent in all works and Keith Anderson's notes are informative. I must mention that, like the aforementioned Naxos Rachmaninoff Second and Third by Scherbakov and Yablonsky, this DVD is not a visual account of a concert or studio performance; rather, it features DVD technology in sound only. Movement titles are displayed on the screen and all other features, like easy accessing of each movement, are also of course available here. Highly recommended.

Copyright © 2004, Robert Cummings