Lilya Zilberstein has already taken on some of the virtuoso pillars of the repertoire for DG—Brahms's Paganini Variations, the Mussorgsky Pictures, Rachmaninov's Third Concerto and so it is fascinating to hear her in music of a more subtle evocation and delicacy. And although her Debussy and Ravel are hardly consistent or to the manner born, they are rarely less than individual or distinguished. Like other Russian pianists before her she places greater emphasis on the music's sensuous and expressive warmth than on its formal clarity. Her response to say, ''Le soiree dans Grenade'' (from Estampes) is richly coloured and inflected (a reminder, perhaps, of Falla's awe of Debussy's Hispanicism) and in ''Jardins sous la pluie'' her virtuosity evokes a coldly drenched and windswept garden its flowers momentarily bejewelled by passing sunlight. She is also highly successful in the more objective patterning of Pour le piano, making the opening Prelude's fortissimo chording and shooting-star glissandos resonate with unusual power.
Martha Argerich’s Ravel G major was for so long a reference recording that it’s easy to forget how idiosyncratic it actually is. I wouldn’t actually blame anyone who found it too garish in its colouring, with its volatility giving diminishing returns and its rubato too predictably appassionato for a sensibility as dapper as Ravel’s. Such a person might well find exactly what they want in Steven Osborne’s account, which is masterful in its own way but essentially self-effacing.
If anybody is, then Zoltán Kocsis is truly a musical artist in the Renaissance sense: he explores ever greater areas of his profession, and takes possession of new realms. Initially, we looked on with incomprehension, asking why as a pianist of genius, he did not devote himself exclusively to his instrument. Why was he dissipating his creative energies is so many fields: teaching, conducting, writing essays, creating concert programs, forming societies and building an orchestra – and of course, there was his composition as well. But these days, we really have to acknowledge that with Kocsis, this is not some sporting achievement, but utilising the Wagnerian term – a kind of “Gesamtkunstwerk” activity.