Richly Rendered Rachmaninov Two-Piano Suites

Review by: Victor Carr Jr


Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

Charles Owen & Katya Apekisheva approach Rachmaninov’s Suites for Two Pianos with a depth and seriousness similar to that found in Ashkenazy and Previn’s classic Decca recording (though without the latter duo’s beguiling lightness of touch). This approach especially suits the moody and introspective Suite No. 1’s first and third movements, and is most effective in the “Boris Godunov” bells of the “Easter” finale, which the duo performs with great precision and power.

In Suite No. 2, Owen & Apekisheva face formidable competition from Martha Argerich and Nelson Freire, whose stunning, swift-tempo performance on Philips makes most others seem staid by comparison. Still, Owen & Apekisheva’s less aggressive pacing evokes a certain depth and old-world charm that’s quite ingratiating. The waltz movement is a case in point: Argerich and Freire sound like Rachmaninov the piano virtuoso, while Owen & Apekisheva, with their sensitivity to the music’s tonal and textural nuances, and their rich, warm piano sound, evoke Rachmaninov the composer.

These same qualities, as well as the duo’s stylistic flexibility and impeccable musicianship well capture the widely varied moods of Rachmaninov’s Six Morceaux. The recording offers robust and wide-ranging sound that is superior to the listed alternatives. A welcome release.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Suite No. 2 - Argerich & Freire (Philips), Suites 1 & 2 - Ashkenazy & Previn (Decca)

    Fantaisie-Tableaux Suite For Two Pianos (No. 1 Op. 5)
    Suite for Two Pianos (No. 2 Op. 17)
    Six Morceaux for Piano four hands Op. 11
  • Charles Owen & Katya Apekisheva (pianos)

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