Alexandre Thauraud's Recording RACHMANINOV 2 Named October's "Editor's Choice" in Gramophone!

Alexandre Tharaud

Another ‘Rach 2’ dropping on to the doormat makes the heart rather sink. Except…the pianist is the wonderfully gifted Alexandre Tharaud, and the orchestra is the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and, let’s see, the conductor is the excellent Alexander Vedernikov. This might be special.

So it proves. After the famous introductory bars – following the score rather than the composer’s recording – the sweeping first subject enters faster, thankfully, than Richter’s celebrated account but with the same majestic assurance. Various boxes are ticked as the movement proceeds, including a properly swaggering alla marcia, emphasised by the piano’s forward placement in the sound picture. The clarinet solo in the Adagio is as tender and vulnerable as you’ll ever hear (with or without its association with Brief Encounter, this one is particularly poignant), and so to the finale, notable for the soloist’s exemplary clarity and the orchestra’s alternately lusty and sensitive playing. On the last page, Tharaud and Vedernikov decide to share the battle honours and storm home as equal partners to thrilling effect.

As a further contrast, soprano Sabine Devieilhe joins Tharaud in the ‘Vocalise’ (lovely but without quite the same poise as Natalie Dessay or the incomparable Anna Moffo). The disc ends with two more pianists joining Tharaud for the Two Pieces for Piano, Six Hands(1890 91): not Rachmaninov at his best, it doesn’t work as a piece of programming and is thus the only part of the disc that is not completely successful.
Read the rest of the review here