François du Toit

Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff

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South African pianist François du Toit performs two of the most popular showpieces of the repertoire on this 2010 release from Two Pianists Records and is ably backed by the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Omri Hadari. The Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor by Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky usually receives a splashy and extroverted performance, especially when it's played by up-and-coming artists, but here it is given a somewhat introspective interpretation by a seasoned professional, and du Toit takes his time unwinding the music, strand by strand, giving each lyrical phrase and soft passage emphasis over the more dramatic sections. This isn't a powerhouse reading at all, but more of a connoisseur's exploration of details. The Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Sergey Rachmaninov is edgy and acute, in contrast with the Tchaikovsky, so while the concerto seems to be predominant, ephemeral, and dreamlike in mood, the closing selection is more like a wake-up call in its energy. The reproduction has a wide dynamic range with spacious dimensions, so if the volume of the music seems muted or veiled at a moderate level, then an increase is needed to hear all the details.

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