Lugansky Surveys the Rachmaninov Concerti
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 09/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"By now even the most casual concertgoer and record collector knows the Rachmaninov Piano Concerti and everyone has favorite renditions. Until now. The young (33 year old) Russian wonder Nikolai Lugansky plays these old chestnuts as though they were premieres to the ear. That every note is in place comes as no surprise to those who have heard him play on recordings or on the stage. And it is a given that the full keyboard will be covered with his bravado technique, making even the more treacherous passages strong in clarity and uncovered by heavy pedaling.
But there is more to Lugansky's performances here with Sakari Oramo conducting the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. For example in the opening of the Adagio from the 2nd Rachmaninov clearly wrote the piano part to be an accompaniment for the orchestral melody, and whereas most other pianists stretch this secondary role with extensive portamento and saccharine emphasis, Lugansky understands his role and plays so straight forward and understated that the orchestra's moments shine. Then when the piano jumps into the spotlight he fully understands how to sing Rachmaninov's gorgeous, lyrical melodies with as much passion as the composer demands.
Both the 2nd and 4th concerti are as fine as they come and in Oramo, Lugansky has found a sensitive collaborator. Grady Harp, September 05