Shostakovich, Piano Concertos 1/2, A. Melnikov, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, T. Currentzis
Schumann's Symphonic Etudes have rarely sounded as convincing as they were in Melnikov's hands. Melnikov played all of the movements originally published by Schumann, including the two non-variation etudes (3 and 9) that the composer later removed from the work. He also interpolated the last two of the lost variations that Schumann did not allow to be included, which were later published by Brahms, placing them between Etudes 7 and 8. Melnikov, while not a historically informed performance (HIP) specialist by any means, has done some interesting work with historical instruments, as in his recording of the Brahms sonatas, and with performance practice scholarship. He played much of the Schumann with little to no sustaining pedal, including the third movement (Vivace), which made the right-hand violin-like figuration dry and spiky. While the fast movements pushed the envelope of velocity with astounding accuracy and excitement, the slow movements were intensely espressivo, wisps and tendrils of music slowly unfurled. The finale was just about as astonishing as we have ever heard it (played by Yuja Wang, among others), with even the loudest chords expertly voiced rather than just hammered.
Robert Battey, Pianist Alexander Melnikov embodies what’s best about Phillips recital series (Washington Post, February 26)
The next concert at the Phillips Collection will feature violist Matthew Lipman and pianist Nimrod David Pfeffer (March 3, 4 pm).