Originally published on April 1
Eager and grandiose in this performance, the Piano Concerto No.1 (final version) is given an absorbing account, Boris Giltburg in dynamic form, very ably supported by the detailed Brussels Phil and Vassily Sinaisky, a reading of shapely flexibility and quixotic zeal. But the big test comes with the opening of the underestimated Concerto Four (masterpiece though it is, here in its second revision) and the clarity needed for the complex scoring to register fully; pretty good, just needed a tad more presence from the woodwinds (Haitink for Ashkenazy, Decca, the yardstick) … overall though a distinguished rendition, energetic (fabulous finger-work from Giltburg in the Finale), impassioned (richer violins would have been welcome at the most ardour-filled moments), supple and savoured. As for Paganini Rhapsody (how many recordings of it are there now, I wonder?), this is one of the best, a zesty incident-packed (but not attention-seeking) palate-cleanser should this work have become a tired warhorse, Variation XVIII nicely integrated. Excellent sound courtesy of Dave Rowell (August-September last year) and Andrew Keener’s production values complete a notable issue. Naxos 8.574528 is released on April 14.