Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky. Concerto



Alexei Sultanov

RACHMANINOFF: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, No. 2, in С minor, Op.   18

TCHAIKOVSKY: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, No.  1, in В flat minor, Op. 23

Alexei Sultanov, piano: London Symphony Orchestra, Maxim Shosta­kovich, cond. Wolfgang Mohr, prod. Teldec С lassics CD: 4G281-2 (DDD). Playing lime: 68:48.



Alexei Sultanov won the Gold Medal at   the    Eighth   Van   Cliburn International   Piano   Competition   in June 1989.   This debut recording was taped at the Mailings Concert Hall in Aldeburgh, England, in November, just months after the Soviet pianist's Dallas triumph at the age of 19.

Sultanov's playing here is pretty close to that heard at his Carnegie Hall recital in May, with a similar compen­dium of many virtues and a few immaturities (for a review of the live perfor­mance,   sec   "Debuts   &   Reappear­ances"). Sultanov's  patently virtuosic execution stands him in good stead for both of these popular Romantic war-horse concertos, and his type of Horo­witz-influenced sonority (that is, bright .and nervy rather than plush in the Ru­binstein tradition) draws sparks, as one might have predicted. Sultanov, for all his impulsive bravura, is not a banger: he uses the sustaining pedal sparingly, and  displays an  altogether superior penchant for color and phrase shape. Occasionally, he allows momentum to flag just a little, and a few purple pas­sages arc just a mite bland emotionally. In fairness, this is equally true with the more   mature   conductor,   Maxim Shostakovich, who conjures an admi­rable discipline and tonal transparency from the London Symphony Orchestra. However, he sometimes stifles rhetoric to the detriment of the music, especial­ly in the Rachmaninoff concerto.   For example,   the brass fanfare heralding the development section in the Rach­maninoff   lacks the altogether more generous, sweeping gestures of Leo­pold Stokowski (widi die composer as soloist,   RCA   5997-2)   and   Willem Mengelberg  (with  Walter Gicseking, Music & Arts CD 250).

On the whole, though, these are good performances, spaciously and convincingly reproduced. Together they make an impressive showcase for an up-and-coming keyboard firebrand.


Harris Coldsmith

Musical America. The Journal of Classical Music. 1990


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