Beatrice Rana / Antonio Pappano / Accademia di Santa Cecilia Orchestra

Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 2; Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1

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The young Italian pianist Beatrice Rana came to public attention in the U.S. as a silver medalist at the 2013 Van Cliburn Competition in Texas and was then signed to the surging Warner Classics label. This debut album seems to justify the buzz. The program, with the evergreen Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23, and the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16, is conventional enough for a first outing, but Rana easily stands out from the crowd. Take your pick when sampling, but perhaps the highlight of the whole thing is the finale of the Prokofiev (track four), ferocious and brilliant all at once. The virtues of the Tchaikovsky are different, and here you see something of the strengths that might emerge in Rana's playing in the future: where the Prokofiev is hard and minatory, the Tchaikovsky goes counter to the abundant monumental readings of the first movement with a treatment that's deliberate, detailed, and cumulatively sweeping. Antonio Pappano and the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia are plainly electrified by the playing of their young compatriot and respond with crack, lush playing, excellently captured in the orchestra's Sala Santa Cecilia home base. An extremely exciting debut, and fine versions of these two standards by any measure.

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