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Raymond Tuttle
Fanfare, November 2012

…the four short works by Rachmaninoff are played with a gorgeous singing tone, and with feeling that never crosses the line into affectation. I…appreciate [Scherbakov’s] willingness to play less familiar works, particularly the early Elegy, which dates from Rachmaninoff’s teen years.

Pictures at an Exhibition is a large-scale challenge, of course, and I was interested to hear how Scherbakov would cope with it, given that my only experience with him is in shorter works. The opening Promenade is brisk and purposeful, and it sets the stage for what is to come. This is not self-conscious playing, and although Scherbakov’s objectivity surprised me initially, I was won over not just by the clarity of his fingers, but also by the clarity of his thought…Scherbakov has a good ear for the composer’s sound world and temperament.

There are very thorough booklet notes, and the engineering is outstanding, with a fine live ambiance… © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

David DeBoor Canfield
Fanfare, November 2012

Konstantin Scherbakov certainly has impressive credentials.…I find his reading of the works here to be first-rate and worthy of any music lover’s attention. Particularly noteworthy is Scherbakov’s sense of line, and his careful and well-thought-out weighting of the various parts in these pieces. Piano music, by its very nature, has chords of a number of notes, as well as musical lines that vie for weighting according to voice-leading, contrapuntal considerations, and the construction of the chords, among other things. Scherbakov is a master of this crucial parameter of piano playing. One example of his mastery is found in the inner line of measures 14–17 of “Il Vecchio Castello,” played with just the right amount of weight; another occurs in the balance of the melodic line against the accompaniment of the Etude in e♭ of Rachmaninoff.

Scherbakov takes the media via approach to Pictures. He is neither far outside the mainstream of performance tradition in the work, nor is he afraid to make the work his own, even going so far as to rewriting certain portions of it…It’s very effective…

Much more pronounced is Scherbakov’s rewriting of “Limoges,” where he frequently transposes some of the lines in the right hand up an octave, and makes other changes to the texture, adding notes here and there. Again, this is done tastefully, and not out of accord with what Mussorgsky could conceivably have written.

Piano aficionados will surely want this disc, so if you count yourself among that group, don’t delay in getting a copy. Others wanting to hear fine performances of this repertory will also experience a very satisfying recital. Needless to say, the competition for all of these works is stiff, but I highly recommend the disc anyway. Scherbakov is a major pianist of our time, and I’m glad to make his musical acquaintance. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Phil Muse
Audio Video Club of Atlanta, July 2012

…Russian pianist Konstantin Scherbakov…really gets to demonstrate his strengths in a program encompassing Mussorgsky’s formidable Pictures at an Exhibition, a choice side order of Rachmaninoff, and the molten intensity of Prokofiev.

In Pictures, Scherbakov plays Mussorgsky’s powerful, elaborately constructed chords for all their sonorous worth in a way that resonates in the sonic environment and reverberates in our consciousness for a long time. He feasts on the strong, simple rhythms in typically asymmetrical meter that make this work of music what it is. In “The Old Castle,” Scherbakov takes us through a progression of moods, some sad, others pensive or heroic, always tinged with a deep nostalgia for the vanished glories of the past, without ever losing his feel for the slowly measured troubador rhythm underneath the reverie. In “The Cattle.” Mussorgky’s dissertation on the mind-blearing toil and suffering of the world as epitomized in a lumbering, overladen oxcart on a muddy road, begins fortissimo in the piano version…before receding in a long diminuendo, which Scherbakov does beautifully.

Scherbakov handles the transition from the frenetic liveliness of “The Marketplace at Limoges”…and the deeply sonorous and elegiac “Catacombs,” almost static in its massive block chords, with a suddenness that takes our breath away. The chilling, nightmarish portrait of the predatory witch in “Baba Yaga” makes its customary impact here. But we are in for a greater surprise in the final tableau, “The Great Gate of Kiev,” with its ascending scale figurations like joyous carillons and the sudden fortissimo at the repetition of the theme. © 2012 Audio Video Club of Atlanta

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