While there is no knowing what whimsy prompted the fine fellows from the reissue department of EMI to release Vladimir Ovchinnikov's 1989 recording of both sets of Rachmaninov's Etudes-Tableaux in its "encore" series, one can only be grateful it did. Along with rereleasing both Richter's sublime Schumann disc and Barenboim's abysmal Beethoven disc, EMI has released for the first time this vivid and virtuosic Rachmaninov recording by Ovchinnikov.
Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 and Etudes-Tableaux, played by the Russian Evgeny Kissin, is unparalleled in mastery, beauty, and power. Kissin understands the flow of the piece from beginning to end. As a result, he builds the tension by accentuating the rich chord progressions that fill the piece. He then resolves that tension with the precision of a story-teller and the sensitivity of a master artist. Though the music stretches the ability of even the greatest pianists, Kissin plays through the difficulty in order to paint a landscape of musical progression.
With her winning combination of consummate technical brilliance, fine musicianship, and personal verve, the pianist Xiayin Wang captures the hearts of audiences wherever she appears. She is achiving high levels of recognision for her commanding performances as a recitalist, chamber musician, and orchestral soloist in such venues as New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. This is Wang’s second disc for Chandos Records. Her previous disc, of piano works by Earl Wild, was an ‘International Piano Choice’ in International Piano.
This magnificent collection spans almost half a century, from three of Rachmaninov's Op 39 Etudes-Tableaux that Vladimir Ashkenazy recorded in 1963, to his version of the First Sonata, which was released two years ago. It's wonderfully comprehensive, including the four piano concertos and the Paganini Rhapsody, the works for two pianos (the Suites and the Symphonic Dances with André Previn, some smaller-scale pieces with Ashkenazy's son Vovka), and all manner of occasional pieces and transcriptions as well as the major solo piano works.