Yefim Bronfman and Tchaikovsky
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 10/13/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Perhaps this recording was made just a year too soon. Yefim Bronfman has been performing the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 for only the past five years and this recording, made in 2007, does not showcase his mastery of that cherished old warhorse of a concerto as well as it could. For this listener the problem seems to be a lack of unified viewpoint between Bronfman and Mariss Jansons: while both are splendid artists they differ in their approach to this concerto. This fact might not seem apparent to those who have not heard Bronfman illuminate this work the way he does with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic as evidenced in astonishingly grand performances recently in Disney Hall. The best of all possible worlds would have been for Bronfman and Salonen to record their very centered, collaborative, and intensely polished yet romantic version.
Yefim Bronfman is a consummate musician, a pianist able to obtain more sound from the piano than about anyone before audiences today. Yet for all his extraordinary dexterity and technical virtuosity, he never forgets the heart of the music. This commitment to the soul of Tchaikovsky's most famous piano concerto is evident here. His phrasing is thoughtfully focused, his rapid passages defy human capability, and his poetry in the middle movement is echt Russian. Mariss Jansons conducts the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra with his usual masterful control and the sound is superb. The piano and the orchestra just don't seem to agree often enough to make this a perfect recording.
Jansons is certainly more in his element with his performance of the Symphony No. 4, as here the vision is his and his alone and the result is a sweepingly beautiful recording that compares to the best available today.
Since this is Bronfman's first recording of this concerto, there is hope that his long friendship and association with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic will encourage another recording that would make available the magic that happens with that collaboration. We can hope. Grady Harp, October 08"