Tchaik Piano

Review by: Victor Carr Jr

Artistic Quality: 8

Sound Quality: 7

Valentina Kameníková (1930-89) was one the more notable Czech musicians of the post-war era. She performed throughout Europe and was greatly admired for her interpretations of the Russian repertoire, especially Tchaikovsky, whose Sonata Op. 37 was one of her specialties. There are relatively few pianists willing to take on Tchaikovsky’s clangorous, fussy work–Richter did, and like him Kameníková makes it her own, finding poetry beneath all the rhetoric.

Poetry precisely describes Kameníková’s approach to the B-flat minor Concerto as well. After her stately and richly resounding chords at the opening, she caresses the music with a flowing beauty we associate with Chopin. However, this doesn’t mean she goes soft in the dramatic passages; in the first movement’s development and cadenza Kameníková displays a Schumannesque passion rather than Van Cliburn’s and Martha Argerich’s Lisztian heaven-storming. The same goes for the remaining movements, the Andante sounding like a lullaby with a brief bit of fancy, and the finale a joyous dance, rhythmically taut and alert. Jiøí Pinkas makes for a great collaborator, leading the Brno State Philharmonic in a reading of great sensitivity and nuance–in other words playing the music like it matters. The 1970 sound is well balanced for the concerto; the 1963 solo recording is somewhat boxy.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Concerto: Cliburn/RCA, Pogolerich/DG, Argerich/Philips

PIOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY - Piano Concerto No. 1; Piano Sonata No. 2

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