Rachmaninov Piano Sonata No 2; Corelli Variations

Magnificent playing, but there's something shifty about the booklet

Author: 
Jeremy Nicholas
Rachmaninov Piano Sonata No 2Rachmaninov Piano Sonata No 2

RACHMANINOV Piano Sonata No 2; Corelli Variations

  • Variations on a theme of Corelli
  • Sonata for Piano No. 2
  • (5) Morceaux de fantaisie
  • (5) Morceaux de fantaisie, No. 3, Mélodie in E
  • (5) Morceaux de fantaisie, No. 5, Sérénade in B flat minor

Bernd Glemser is presented to us in the booklet’s approximate English as the winner of ‘17 competitions and special prizes in a row’, a record ‘that has been on the books since 1890’, apparently. It implies that he won the Tchaikovsky and ARD competitions (as well as six others listed). He didn’t, and is far too gifted an artist to have such tawdry hyperbole attached to his name.

On one point the booklet-writer is correct: ‘The pianist has a particular affinity for the works of Sergei Rachmaninov.’ This is a recording which allows you to concentrate purely on the music and the artist’s interpretation, and not be distracted by any worrying deficiencies in recorded sound, piano tone or pianistic technique: it’s all there. Glemser’s golden, burnished sound is a treat for the ears in the Corelli Variations and, indeed, throughout.

The Piano Sonata No 2 is heard in its original version with a few references to and additions from the revised version. Glemser’s impassioned reading is as tempestuous as it is heartfelt, among the most magnificent I have heard. It is also a pleasure to hear the complete Op 3 – the famous C sharp minor Prelude is the second of the set (and a fine, fiery account it is, too) – the highlight of which, for me, is the Mélodie, No 3. A fleeting magical moment at 1'39" makes you catch your breath. The revised version of this and the Sérénade, No 5, concludes the disc, the former amounting to Rachmaninov’s transcription of his own work. All in all, then, a disc to relish.

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