Solid (but not quite first choice) Rachmaninov

Review by: Jed Distler

Artistic Quality: 8

Sound Quality: 8

By and large, the idiomatic flair and impressive facility distinguishing Xiayin Wang’s Naxos Scriabin release informs her Rachmaninov playing. She brings plenty of power and projection to the swirling patterns throughout the six Moments musicaux, although she tends to accent downbeats more often than necessary and builds climaxes too soon, in contrast with Vladimir Ashkenazy’s better judged dynamic proportions.

Her Op. 33 Etudes-tableaux are altogether lighter and more skittishly phrased compared alongside Nareh Arghamanyan’s fiercer, more dynamically contrasted renditions, and the same observation applies to the Corelli Variations. The latter inspires memorable moments from Wang, including a wonderfully supple Allegro Scherzando variation (No. 10), plus the steadily building and solidly controlled concluding triptych (Variations 18-20). It’s strange how Wang’s ironclad rhythm here goes slack in the similar agitato Variation 13, where she turns the triplet motto figurations into duplets. Garrick Ohlsson, by contrast, addresses this detail, and imparts far more color and rhetorical fancy to the Intermezzo. No doubt this release would attract more attention and less qualified praise in a less competitive catalog environment.



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Etudes-tableaux Op. 33 & Corelli Variations: Nareh Arghamanyan (PentaTone)

  • RACHMANINOV, SERGEI:
    Moments Musicaux Op. 16; Etudes-tableaux Op. 33; Variations on a Theme of Corelli Op. 42

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