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Dip Your Ears, No. 49 (Berezovsky’s Rachmaninoff)

available at Amazon
S.Rachmaninoff, Préludes,
Mirare 004

Have Rachmaninoff’s solo piano works ever ‘escaped’ you? Have you ever been slightly annoyed or uninvolved by the sonatas or even the Préludes? There is no shame in admitting immunity to these works’ charm – Charles, for one, has done so in public, at least with regards to the sonatas. Add me to the list, too. Then strike me right off that list, though, where the Préludes are concerned, because I’ve finally come to terms with them thanks to a new recording that may do the trick for the similarly afflicted, too. What’s good for the uninitiated is even more ear-opening for the converted: Rachmaninoff lovers should put this disc very high on their Christmas wish-list. It is a new recording by Boris Berezovsky; not the one on Warner Classics (those are the op. 10 études of Chopin coupled with their corresponding Godowsky transcriptions, although that’s a really fun disc, too) but on the smaller and exciting label MIRARE. That label’s presentations so far have been beautiful on the in- and outside… and their Scarlatti discs with Pierre Hantaï (vol. 1 and 2) are very high on my own holiday want-list.

Berezovsky plays the ten Préludes, op. 23, the thirteen Préludes, op. 32, and the Préludes en ut dièse mineur, op. 3, no. 2, on this almost 80-minute-long disc. The latter are roughly contemporary to the Debussy préludes while the earliest (and most famous), the c-sharp minor, is the second from a set of five short piano pieces written in 1891. Except the 1891 F major and 1917 D minor prélude (generally known as the Andante ma non troppo), all of Rachmaninoff’s préludes are included here. Completists are pointed in the direction of Idil Biret’s recording of those two works, appropriately coupled with the Prélude-based Variations on a Theme of Chopin – Naxos 8.554426). I don’t know exactly what it is that makes Berezovsky communicate these works like I have never heard before, not with Ashkenazy, Alexeev, or Shelley… but he does and I delight in the immediacy of his playing, the enthusiasm he brings to and from the préludes, the way he involves me as a listener. And Berezovsky only gets better as he gets along in these works. At least as far as I and my troubled relationship to Rachmaninoff’s solo piano works are concerned, this is as good as it gets.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have you tried the Santiago Rodriguez recordings on Elan? They're my preference in Rachmaninov's preludes (and sonatas). I love all Rachmaninov immoderately, so perhaps I am not the best guide to recordings of this repertoire for you, but perhaps others will be moved to try Rodriguez (who, for what it's worth, is a local - PG County, baybee!).