Simon Trpceski / Vasily Petrenko / Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Tchaikovsky: Piano Concertos 1 & 2

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The world hardly needed another recording of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23, and it would seem hard for a young pianist to make a mark with the work, given all the epic performances that have preceded. All the more admirable, then, that Macedonia's Simon Trpceski, he of the few vowels, not only manages to deliver a fully persuasive reading, but also to go where nobody has gone before. He does it precisely by not being epic. The mighty first movement is broken up into a series of clearly articulated little figures, with the majority of the power reserved for the finale. It sounds like the kind of revisionist Tchaikovsky some people love to hate, but consider these factors. The slow movement is an exceptionally beautiful nocturne. The execution is exquisitely controlled. Trpceski's interpretation goes well with the bent toward finding emotional undercurrents in Tchaikovsky's music, even in the big histrionic pieces (maybe especially in the big histrionic pieces). And he gets very sensitive support from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under Vasily Petrenko. The Piano Concerto No. 2 in G major, Op. 44, does not work as well here, but then, it never does. For those looking for a Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 without any banging of the keys, or for a pianist who's definitely on the rise, this release fills the bill on both counts.

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