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Penguin Guide, January 2009

TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 3 8.557257
TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 2 / Concert Fantasia 8.557824

Konstantin Scherbakov is a fine pianist and a first-rate Tchaikovskian in a really Russian partnership with Yablonsky, he gives us all Tchaikovsky’s concertante music for piano, including the Andante and Finale. Op. 79 (drawing on music for a discarded symphony) which Taneyev revised and scored after the composer’s death—including plenty of rhetoric. The performances are full of impulsive virtuosity, but the famous B flat minor, while not a barnstorming account, is satisfying for its overall balance, as well as for an exciting finale. The Third Concerto comes off very well indeed; the Second Concertos is played uncut, and one might have been pared down to good effect. But the slow movement and the brilliant finale are very successful. The highlight of the set is superb, bravura account of the Concert Fantasy, lyrical and sparkling by turns. The recording is spacious, the piano boldly placed in front of the orchestra. The two discs are available separately.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2007
p >Konstantin Scherbakov's freedom of expression and outgoing virtuosity brings a fresh and unpredictable view to Tchaikovsky's Second Piano Concerto, his approach being one of a free flowing rhapsody that emphasises tempo and dynamic changes. His dexterity creates the most mercurial passages, at times used to form moments of filigree lightness. Cadenzas become exciting technical showpieces in the style of Liszt, with phrases shaped in the most unexpected way. At times the music almost comes to a halt before exploding once again in the utmost brilliance, that sense of improvisation is, after all, the original intention of cadenzas. At times in tutti passages he seems to take Yablonsky by surprise, and the dash to the finale's finishing post must have frightened the hard-pressed Philharmonic violins. Much the same level of adrenaline floods through a free flowing Concert Fantasy, Scherbakov taking the word 'fantasy' as the composer's sign of intent, the music at times meditating before darting off in another display of agility. It's a long way from the standard approach, but most interesting. He is enthusiastically supported in both by the Russian orchestra, Yablonsky also providing an elegant and beautiful cello solo in the long orchestral passage that open's the concerto's second movement. Forget the error on the sleeve, his fine violin partner in the Tchaikovsky is Andrey Kudryavtsev. There seems to have been some balance changes, but the sound is generally good.

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