Monday, 3 April 2017

Accompanied by ...

Let's face it; when it comes to the orchestral contribution to Sergei Rachmaninov's piano concertos, the orchestra has a minor role. Not quite as minor as accompanying a violinist in Paganini's violin concertos. But nearly. So all praise to the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Paavo Järvi who really make the most of it when playing the orchestral part for Rachmaninov's second and third piano concertos with Khatia Buniatishvili. Ms Buniatishvili receives the lion's share of publicity (and musical glamour), and quite rightly so. But listening again, I also greatly admired the Czech Philharmonic. Rare an orchestra receives praise for accompanying a major soloist in a virtuoso concerto; when playing with violinists such a Jascha Heifetz or Michael Rabin, the orchestra – as well as being relegated to the background by the recording engineers – also had the indignity of seeing whole swathes of the orchestral music cut as being of little interest. Who wants to listen to the backing group (in popular music parlance)? Which is yet another reason why I treasure Wilhelm Furtwängler “accompanying” artists such as Edwin Fischer, Yehudi Menuhin, Wolfgang Schneiderhan, or Erich Röhn in concertos. And the Czech Philharmonic does well partnering Ms Batiashvili.

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