AS a masterpiece of variation from Rachmaninov’s Paganini Rhapsody has it all; demanding a fiendish piano technique that can illuminate its melodic integrity, and brilliant orchestration.
Denis Kozhukin has that formidable facility, zipping through those 24 variations in as many minutes, yet doing so with an intelligent approach that invested some slower episodes with a notion of emotion.
The lovely Variation No18 is opulently scored and delivered here with tender constraint and setting in contrast the frenzied,finger-blurring finale with pure wizardry.
It may be minus 26C in Moscow at the moment, but Shostakovich’s Symphony No5 is the one that brought him back in from the cold in Soviet Russia. A brilliant piece of double-edged deception, here wrought with a vivid sense of pathos and melancholy under Alsop’s cogent direction, and contrasting the trampling conflict of orchestral forces.
The white heat of the finale, opening with brass and hammering timpani, fully conveyed the elements of a wry smile under menacing oppression in triumphant style.