Recorded during live concert performances, Lang Lang's second Telarc release justifies all the positive buzz surrounding this young pianist's rapidly ascending international career. He brings plenty of finger power and long-lined drama to Rachmaninov's ubiquitous Third Concerto, yet takes plenty of time to let the lyrical, soaring tunes spin without an inkling of self-indulgence. He admirably adjusts the piano part to accompany when he doesn't bear the melodic burden, and he gets more expressive mileage from transitions than many pianists do. For once, the thicker, more difficult first movement cadenza doesn't sound unwieldy and elephantine. The piano is a little too prominent in the mix next to Temirkanov's sensitively detailed, flowing orchestral support. While Lang Lang has not fully internalized the quivering underbelly of Scriabin's passionate keyboard writing, his poised and secure readings of 10 Etudes still boast plenty of dynamism, idiomatic nuance, and roaring, Horowitz-like octaves. Watch this pianist!
Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30 (colloquially known as The Rach 3) is famous for its technical and musical demands on the performer. It is one of the most difficult works for piano ever written; it has the reputation of being the most difficult concerto in the entire piano repertoire.
Garrick Ohlsson is much better known for his elegant recordings of the piano music of Frédéric Chopin than he is for his forays into Russian music, but this 2011 release of Sergey Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor shows that he brings the same kind of polish and depth of expression to this monumental post-Romantic showpiece. From the opening octaves of his entrance, Ohlsson plays with smooth, melodic connectedness, and his singing tone carries the work's long lines effectively, if somewhat introspectively.
The Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 3 is rarely heard, though it is a finely crafted work worth greater attention. It has suffered alongside the magnificent and superior Second and the ever-popular First. Moreover, it is not a bona fide concerto at all, the composer having completed only the first movement before his sudden death in 1893. Contrary to the suggestion of a few, it is highly unlikely he intended to produce a one-movement concerto. Tchaikovsky wrote two other piano pieces the same year bearing the titles "Andante" and "Finale," respectively. Following his death, Taneyev orchestrated these and attached them to the Concerto, though Tchaikovsky had left no indication they were to be a part of it. But the pair did share something in common with the completed first movement: a theme source – the incomplete Symphony No. 7. In any event, the opening movement of this Concerto is the most compelling, featuring an exuberant main theme whose first two notes are the central melodic element. An attractive slow melody is soon presented, followed by a theme of great vivacity and rhythmic drive.
Deep in the heart of the Cold War, there was once a miracle in Moscow – Texas-based classical pianist Van Cliburn, of whom no one had heard, conquered at the First Tchaikovsky Competition, an event set aside to showcase Soviet talent. Cliburn was warned by his own government not to go, given the tense political relationship between the United States and Soviet Union at the time, and once he arrived he was greeted as a party crasher, subject to hostile stares and animosity of the kind he had never dreamed of back in Texas. And it was Cliburn, at the end, which brought down the house, and held the award. Back in America, he was greeted with a ticker tape parade and was the subject of a best-selling biography by Abram Chasins, The Van Cliburn Story, copies of which continue to clog the shelves of American thrift stores five decades hence. Ultimately, though, Cliburn's celebrity lost its luster. Nerves, ultra-picky perfectionism, and mishandling by management led to his early retirement from the concert scene; his greatest latter-day achievement being the force behind the Van Cliburn Piano Competition, America's most prestigious such event.
The Cologne New Philharmonic Orchestra with conductor Volker Hartung and pianist Hubert Salwarowski are presented in a most exciting performance of Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto and Brahms Symphony No.2.