Yuri Temirkanov conducts Rachmaninov and Rimsky-Korsakov, Blu-ray (2014)Program: RACHMANINOV: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor; Étude Tableau, op. 39 No. 2; Prelude op.32, No. 12; Symphonic Dances; RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Scheherazade; ELGAR: Salut d’amour; VERDI: La forza del destino Ov. Performers: St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orch./Denis Matsuev, piano/ Yuri Temirkanov (8/26/14) Studio: Euro Arts 2075064 [Distr. by Naxos] Video: 16:9 1081p HD color Audio: PCM Stereo No Region Code Length: 143:34 Rating: ***
I am relatively unfamiliar with both Yuri Temirkanov as well as with pianist Denis Matsuev. I do know all these works quite well (as I am sure most readers do; this is mainstream repertoire) and I found the performances here quite good.The source for this recording, the Annecy Festival is one of Europe’s most prestigious festivals, now completing its fourth season. I was quite taken with Matsuev’s Rachmaninov Second as well as the encores. His performances are noble, very “Russian” and, I felt, truly attention-getting.
I do feel that the performances here are quite good. Let’s face it, there are so many good recordings of both the Rachmaninov Second Concerto or of Scheherazade that it may be a stretch to say that these are the definitive versions of any of this music (not something I would say anyway) but they are very good, indeed.
A different issue might be the sound quality. I have seen a number of reviews of this release wherein people grouse about the audio quality. The complaints range everything from quality for its own sake on to disappointment in what Blu-ray audio ought to be. Although I am not an expert on these matters, it is apparently true that the sound is lossless PCM stereo, rather than the now-standard DTS-HD MA 5.1 that makes full use of home theater surround-sound setups. I have heard Blu-ray audio discs where – for whatever reason – the presence, clarity and power of what the format can provide is better and more pronounced than it is here.
Another way for me to examine the audio aspects of this disc is to state simply that I personally do not have the major dissatisfaction with the sound that I have seen expressed elsewhere. Having said that, it sounds and “feels” to me like that of a good compact disc; nothing too much more pronounced.
From a programming point of view, I did like the inclusion of the comparatively less-known Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances and – other than the encore or filler aspects intended – I was a little less enthusiastic with the inclusion of the Elgar Salut d’amour and the true warhorse Verdi’s La forza del destino Overture.
As concert video this is interesting and entertaining. Pianist Denis Matsuev has a big, physical presence and brings a lot of gesture and force to his playing. Yuri Temirkanov has been around for a long time and his podium demeanor is clean, non-mannered and pretty easy to follow for the orchestra. He reminds me of many European conductors, especially from times past, who realize that it is the music, not themselves, which is being showcased.