Rachmaninov: Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra / Balakirev: “Islamey” – Julius Katchen, the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Georg Solti
Rachmaninov’s piano works, and in particular his Second Piano Concerto, have fired the enthusiasm of music lovers throughout the world. Dedicated to the psychologist Dr. Nikolai Dahl who had cured the composer of depression, the Second Piano Concerto was given its premiere in Moscow on 10 November 1901 with Rachmaninov himself at the piano and has proved itself to be one of the most successful of its genre among Russian piano repertory. The introduction itself with its powerful sequence of chords rivets the audience’s attention and makes each and every listener eager to hear what is yet to come. Katchen’s interpretation is particularly impressive for its austere and powerful introduction, but the lyrical passages too – superabundant in this work – are filled with a delightful, dreamy lightness. Tchaikovsky‘s influence, a Russian soulfulness, and a certain melancholic yearning in the opulent melodies – all are brilliantly portrayed by the pianist. And he finds an ideal partner in the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Georg Solti. Solti proves yet again that he is a master of phrasing and interwoven part-writing; resolutely, with elegance and sharply pointed rhythm, he leads the soloist and orchestra to a brilliant finish.
Recording: June 1958 at Kingsway Hall, London by Kenneth Wilkinson / Production: John Culshaw