RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No 2. Variations on a Theme of Corelli
The London-trained Italian pianist Vanessa Benelli Mosell has conspicuous musical (and even more conspicuous photogenic) talent, and for a young artist still relatively new to the market it’s understandable that she should to want to showcase it to the max. In a warhorse such as Rachmaninov’s Second Concerto you could argue that this is especially forgivable. But when self-display becomes such an overwhelming priority as here the alarm bells do start to ring.
Mosell’s opening gambit is ultra-spacious, in a way that a Richter can bring off and make special, but for which she does not yet have quite the command or, as it transpires, the large-scale vision. In the succeeding lyrical paragraph it becomes apparent that the piano is so closely recorded as to swamp the orchestra, and because Mosell is pedalling as richly as she would do in the concert hall, the aural effect is more than a little confused. And so it continues: the technical grasp is fine but the habitual surges and retreats and the generally hectoring tone give the impression of imitating a favourite performance rather than working out a fresh, individual one. No complaints whatsoever about the orchestra or conductor, though.
The Corelli Variations are also strangely recorded, in an acoustic where the texture all too quickly saturates and fortissimos become battering rather than dramatic or noble. The performance itself is thoroughly prepared, but again more strenuous than searching. I actually had the impression of listening to a demo tape (an impressive one, to be sure) rather than to something engineered by a major label, and I came away feeling slightly bludgeoned, but at the same time fairly sure that this is not a full reflection of what Mosell has to offer.