Boris Giltburg's 2016 release on Naxos consists of two sets of piano pieces by Sergey Rachmaninov, the Études-tableaux, Op. 39 (1916-1917), and the Moments musicaux, Op. 16 (1896). The Études-tableaux are a cross between technical studies and character pieces, reminiscent of the etudes of Frédéric Chopin, and they present considerable challenges, even to virtuoso pianists. Here, Giltburg displays his remarkable skills, as well as a range of expressions that run from the fiery and turbulent to the atmospheric and melancholy. In the Moments musicaux, Rachmaninov experimented with short forms, such as the nocturne, etude, funeral march, barcarolle, and theme with variations, and these pieces demonstrated his mastery of piano technique, if not yet his full maturity as a composer. Giltburg's playing brings out a variety of colors and textures, and his passionate interpretations accord with Rachmaninov's youthful, ardent style.
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.