David's Review Corner
, October 2008
Initially published one month at a time in a Russian magazine, Tchaikovsky’s tour through The Seasons was intended for domestic performance.
They do become progressively more demanding as the months pass by, yet hold little for an outgoing show of keyboard brilliance. There is still much to delight the ear, particularly when performed by this poetic Russian pianist, Ilya Rachkovsky, a young musician who has that ability to retain attention in the most simple and slow sections. The Piano Sonata was completed while still a student in St Petersburg, the influences of Schumann shaping his feelings. Maybe he eventually thought it would attract little attention and orchestrated it as the scherzo for his subsequent First Symphony. It does carry a high opus number having remained unpublished until 1900, seven years after his death. Its main problem is the lack of strong melodic material for the finale, which is busy but without a great deal of musical conviction, the ending quite perfunctory and is poorly worked out. Yet here again Rachkovsky comes to its aid with a performance that is well paced, tender in the slow movement and full of bravura in the finale. Certainly a pianist to watch, and he does have the benefit of a recording made in the UK’s Potton Hall, arguably the ideal location for piano music.