Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No 2, Etc / Scherbakov, Et Al
After excellent accounts for Naxos of Tchaikovsky's First and Third piano concertos, Konstantin Scherbakov and Dmitry Yablonsky offer an even finer sequel. Indeed, this performance of the Second piano concerto moves straight to the top of the pile (along with Pletnev's) as the reference edition of a work that so often comes across as heavy and dull. Not here! With swift tempos and a "take no prisoners" approach, the result is infinitely exciting. The first movement's huge contrasts in tempo and dynamics between first and second subjects (and beautifully executed transitions between them) practically define the Romantic aesthetic, chez Tchaikovsky. The slow movement's accompanied trio textures seldom have flowed more winsomely, and you have to hear Scherbakov to believe how thrillingly he flings himself into the finale's fistfuls of notes. It seems such a simple concept: play the living daylights out of the music. Why do so few pianists attempt it?
While less revelatory an interpretation in terms of the competition, Scherbakov and Yablonsky do just as well by the Concert Fantasy, a wonderful concerto-length piece that no one seems to love. Tuneful, colorfully scored, and innovative in its two-movement form, it deserves to be better known and played with the just the kind of lyrical impetus, bravura, and élan that it receives here. The second movement, "Contrasts", holds together particularly well, perhaps because Scherbakov and Yablonsky take Tchaikovsky at his word and bring out as much variety as possible without ever lapsing into mannerism. Never mind that Naxos has a very fine disc containing exactly this coupling already in its catalog (by Glemser and Wit); this is the one to own, and the excellently balanced sonics and modest price only seal the deal.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.comm
Catalog Number: 8557824
Composer: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor: Dmitry Yablonsky
Orchestra/Ensemble: Russian Philharmonic Orchestra
Performer: Andrey Kudryavtsev, Dmitry Yablonsky, Konstantin Scherbakov