RACHMANINOV Piano Sonata No 2 GRIEG Piano Sonata Op 7
After storming the heights on his disc of Prokofiev’s ‘War’ Sonatas (A/12), Boris Giltburg, the recent winner of the Brussels Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition, turns to three Romantic piano sonatas. Once again he shows himself the possessor of a massive and engulfing technique, this time supporting interpretations that glow with warmth and poetic commitment. His inclusion of the Grieg Sonata as a companion for such opulent masterpieces as Rachmaninov’s Second (played here in the 1931 revision) and the Liszt Sonata will raise a few eyebrows. But as Giltburg himself claims, the Grieg Sonata was a beloved part of his childhood. And certainly few performances could show such musical engagement, making even the weaker third and fourth movements spring vividly to life.
At the same time, Giltburg is a pianist born for Rachmaninov’s emotional largesse, and here in particular his rubato is gloriously sympathetic to the composer’s towering rhetoric. Again, in the Liszt Sonata, the playing is of such an unfaltering command that it allows for the finest expressive power. Giltburg’s fingerwork and the even strength of his octaves are things to marvel at but what makes the playing so special is the seriousness of the approach. Hear him in the central Andante and in the valedictory close, or in the steady rather than frantic fugue commencing the final section, and you may well wonder when you last heard a performance as dignified or subtly poetic. Finely recorded, this is a record for everyone’s delectation and I can scarcely wait to hear Giltburg in other works from his already formidable repertoire.