RACHMANINOV: Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 18; Moments Musicaux, Op. 16 – Dejan Lazic, piano/ London Philharmonic Orchestra/ Kiril Petrenko, conductor – Channel Classics multichannel SACD CCS SA 26308, 64:15 ***1/2 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi]:
The catalogue is full of gorgeous Seconds; one can almost lay a finger down and come up with a fully-fledge and well-finessed Rach 2 that will satisfy on all accounts. My favorites have long been Richter (DG) and Cliburn (RCA)—both give wonderfully spicy readings that leave nothing to be desired in almost any department. Of the newer issues, much ado has been made of Hough’s complete readings and those of Zimmerman; I can’t argue with those. And now along comes this rather expansive and luxuriant version by Mr. Lazic, who has gotten good press on this site.
I can’t complain about anything he does; the pianism is crystalline and thoughtful, robust and sensitive when needed. The LPO plays pretty well, though not as well as some, and Rachmaninov needs strings for the ages to really pull off his melodies and big tunes. For the most part the LPO succeeds, but even the Super Audio can’t hide the fact that this is London and not Vienna; nevertheless, this is creditable and even moving. But at the big melody in the last movement I think that conductor Petrenko stretches farther than his orchestra can bear, and some momentum is lost. Couple this with the immediate applause at the conclusion of the final chord of this live recording, and well, I don’t think a lot of people will want to experience that every time they hear this work.
The Moments Musicaux is studio bound and very nicely rendered. There is a fine clarity to Lazic’s playing that is refreshing and most apropos in this early set of pieces. He seems to know when to let up on the pedal and uses his fluent technique to put across the rather stormy nature of some of the runs without resorting to trickery and gimmicks. I enjoyed them very much.
The SACD is excellent, nicely spaced with a clean and very clear resonance. This is a fine disc—just not your one and only Rach 2.
— Steven Ritter