Noriko Ogawa

Tcherepnin: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 3; Festmusik; Symphonic March

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Since the only competition for this recording at the time of release -- a pair of Olympia discs featuring pianist Murray McLachlan with Julian Clayton leading the Chetham Symphony Orchestra -- can be hard to come by, it is tough to say how Noriko Ogawa's recording of Alexander Tcherepnin's First and Third piano concerto compares. But it is hard to believe the competition could be better. Ogawa is a fleet-fingered virtuoso whose steely attack and vigorous rhythms are well suited to Tcherepnin's music whether in the high Romantic First Concerto of 1919 or the edgy modernist Third Concerto from 1933. She can bring out the First's big melodies and articulate the Third's opening Moderato's sharp-cornered themes and closing Allegro's knotty fugue with true virtuosity. Equally impressive is the Singapore Symphony Orchestra under conductor Lan Shui. It admirably supports Ogawa in the concerto, contributing superbly played and strongly rhythmic accompaniments no matter what the style of the music. It is even more impressive in the two fillers here: a Symphonic March and a four-movement Festmusik suite drawn from Tcherepnin's opera The Wedding of Sobeide. In the former, Shui and the Singapore players are bold, aggressive, and optimistic; in the latter, colorful, evocative, and sensuous. Though Tcherepnin was no Stravinsky or Shostakovich, his music still deserves to be heard by anyone thrilled by Glière or Ippolitov-Ivanov. BIS' digital sound is bright, deep, and luxurious.

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