Peter Donohoe

Tchaikovsky: Piano Concertos 1-3; Concert Fantasy

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This budget set includes a performance of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 2 that won raves from British reviewers and a Gramophone Award in the late '80s, just a few years after pianist Peter Donohoe won the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Here it is united with Tchaikovsky's other major works for piano and orchestra, the Concerto No. 1, the unfinished Concerto No. 3, and the Concert Fantasy, Op. 56. Donohoe is brilliant while still maintaining a certain reserve, and if you like your Tchaikovsky First garish, you'll probably find Donohoe's interpretation a bit lacking in swing, especially in the finale. In the less emotionally intense (and thus less popular) Concerto No. 2, however, we can see what all the fuss was about. The first movement, for all its sound and fury, is a somehow very technical piece, and Donohoe executes it with what may fairly be called perfection. The listener is drawn in more and more strongly, and, upon reaching the cadenza-like flourishes that precede the return of the main material about five minutes before the movement's end, is totally hooked. Donohoe's piano flashes, rings, and occasionally slows down to wring yet a bit more impact out of the next flourish. It's an absolutely bravura effort, of the kind that will make you stand up and cheer, between movements, right in your own living room. A special bonus of the second movement here is the inclusion of its original solo violin and cello parts, here played by a then little-known Nigel Kennedy and Steven Isserlis. If everyone played the Second like this, it would be heard as often as the First. Rudolf Barshai conducts the Bournemouth Symphony.

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