Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No 2 in G major, Op 44; Khachaturian: Piano Concerto

Reviewed on Wed 07 Sep, 2016

Xiayin Wang plays Tchaikovsky’s original score without Siloti's cuts, and her playing in the outer movements is passionate and full of feeling, recalling the manner of Viktoria Postnikova (Decca) or Boris Berezovsky (Mirare).

Unlike its forerunner, Tchaikovsky’s Second Piano Concerto has languished unloved and suffered unkind cuts – most prominently to the concertante section of the middle movement in Alexander Siloti’s performing edition. Fortunately, Xiayin Wang plays Tchaikovsky’s original score, and it has been favoured by other pianists on record. Her playing in the outer movements is passionate and full of feeling, recalling the manner of Viktoria Postnikova (Decca) or Boris Berezovsky (Mirare). If there’s a criticism, it’s to be found in the central movement, where there could be greater fluency of interplay between pianist and the solo violinist and cellist – this was a particularly successful aspect of Peter Donohoe’s recording with Rudolf Barshai and the Bournemouth SO, where he was joined by star soloists Nigel Kennedy and Steven Isserlis (EMI/Warner). Melodie Zhao (Claves) plays the work eloquently; pure poetry. Eldar Nebolsin’s forthcoming account on Naxos faces significant competition. Khachaturian’s Piano Concerto is an unremitting battle of strength for the pianist, often pitted against the thickly-scored orchestra. Xiayin Wang is muscly and forthright, as the work demands, while Oundjian draws some gutsy, characterful playing from the RSNO. As such, this scores over the more intimate recording of Alicia de Larrocha (Decca). Admirable recorded sound; strongly recommended.
–Evan Dickerson