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Outstanding performance … glorious workmanship

Record Geijutsu, Jiro Kusano

“Special Selection Disc” of the month.

In this two-piano recording of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2, the pianists Simon Callaghan and Hiroaki Takenouchi use their own arrangement of the work. Both of these excellent pianists have a wide repertoire that includes many uncommon works, and this new arrangement presumably falls into this category. Their inquisitive nature is at the source of this arrangement, and they succeeded in assimilating this symphony’s deep lyricism and dramatic splendours into their pianism through the arduous work of converting Rachmaninoff’s orchestral writing into that for the piano.

At the beginning of the first movement, the legato layers gradually build up until they richly resonate with soaring emotions. The first subject comes across perhaps somewhat stalling, but it soon comes to life as the pianistic melodic contours and the sustained passagework develop. The second subject is sung with rich tonal colours and allowed to expand continuously. The piano timbre allows the detailed gestures in each part and their effects to be clearly made out even in the complex textures of the development section:

Credit is due for this arrangement by the two artists as well as their outstanding performance.

Fully utilising the effect of the repeated attacks on the strings, the second movement is bursting with energy. The third movement is, to all intents and purposes, a sumptuous piano work with the pianos’ beautiful tonal colours crisscrossing. The fact that those long melodies can be so beautifully sustained on the pianos must be by virtue of their arrangement.

The sumptuousness of the Finale has a lot in common with Rachmaninoff’s own piano works, and in this sense this performance is successful in getting to the essence of the original work as it is clothed with glorious workmanship.


Translated from Japanese.

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