Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
A little-known treasure
Robert L. Berkowitz | Natick, MA United States | 03/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD is also listed under the title "Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3/Four Preludes for Solo Piano" that I already reviewed on this website. I am simply transferring my already written review for interested buyers.
I recently purchased this disc in order to hear Vladimir Viardo prior to attending an upcoming recital. I did not expect it to take pride of place as my favorite recording of the Rachmaninoff 3rd piano concerto.
I own approximately twenty recordings of Rach. 3, including some private recordings made from radio broadcasts of live performances. Up until now, my favorites were Cliburn/Kondrashin, Ashkenazy/Fistoulari, and Mogilevsky/Kondrashin. The Viardo/Mata recording now surpasses this lofty company. My collection also includes Argerich/Chailly, and I agree with the other reviewer who also strongly prefers this Viardo/Mata recording.
It is not too difficult to discern what makes this performance so compelling. As soon as Viardo enters, one is drawn to sit up and listen. He caresses the melodic passages with such tenderness and his performance is infused throughout with the most touching melancholy. Even in the most bravura passages, like the stunningly performed alternate cadenza (not the original one), Viardo sustains tension to such dramatic heights. He makes the piano part seem relatively effortless, and that allows him to put technical concerns aside and emphasize the lyrical line. He plays so expressively -- his phrasing breathes so naturally and poignantly -- even when the passage work is obviously challenging. Viardo and Mata collaborate beautifully in that they seem to share a similar conception of the piece -- you can hear it in their ensemble and in their phrasing.
I believe the most unusual and welcome aspect of this recording is the way these artists maintain a unified conception of the concerto all the way through the performance. Viardo and Mata seem to view the piece as a large gesture that naturally unfolds from its simple opening melody, developing throughout, but closing with the same poignant melancholy never far removed. Through this performance, one is held in a state of melancholic repose from beginning to end. With other recordings, I often find myself tuning out (and turning off) Rach 3 before the end, and I believe that it says something that I have listened to Viardo/Mata from beginning to end three times in just the last two days.
This is a Rach 3 that definitely deserves to be more readily available in the current catalog. I recommend it unreservedly. If I had to limit my collection to just one recording of the Rachmaninoff 3rd piano concerto, this would be it.