TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23. Piano Concerto No. 3 in E flat, Op. 75. Andante and Finale, Op. 79 (orch. Sergey Taneyev).
Konstantin Scherbakov, pianist; Russian Philharmonic Orch/Dmitry Yablonsky, cond.
NAXOS SACD 6.110051 (5.1 channel) TT: 69:15

GRIEG: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16. Symphonic Dances, Op. 64. Concert Overture: In Autumn, Op. 11
Havard Gimse, pianist; Royal Scottish National Orch/Bjarte Engeset, cond.
NAXOS SACD 6.110060 (5 channel) TT: 71:47  

Konstantin Scherbakov was featured on a recent Naxos recording of Rachmaninoff's Second and Third Piano concertos, also with the Russian Philharmonic directed by Yablonsky (REVIEW). This release was marred by indistinct sound, the solo piano being excessively recessed. That recording was made in May 2002, produced by Lubov Doronina with Alexander Karasev as engineer. This recording of Tchaikovsky concertos was made in the same site (Studio 5, Kultura State TV & Radio Company, Moscow) in March 2003 again with Doronina and Karasev with Dmitry Missailov as an additional engineer. This Tchaikovsky recording is another story sonically, with brilliant piano sound (not recessed one bit!), as well as rich orchestral textures, and the rear channels are artfully used to add ambience. Scherbakov gives a solid, quite exciting performances of both concertos and is given strong support by Yablonsky and the Russian orchestra.

The Grieg CD apparently is the beginning of a cycle of the composer's music on Naxos. Orchestrally it is an admirable effort and inclusion of the concert overture In Autumn, long a favorite of Sir Thomas Beecham, is welcome. Pianist Havard Gimse's interpretation of the concerto is a touch erratic, particularly the descending chords at the opening of the work. This performance doesn't reach interpretive heights of the recent EMI stereo issue with Leif Ove Andsnes and the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Mariss Jansons (REVIEW). The Naxos SACD was recorded in Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, May 13-15, 2003, with producer/engineer Tim Handley. The sound, while good enough, sonically doesn't equal what is heard on the Tchaikovsky SACD above. For whatever reason, the Grieg is 5 channel instead of 5.1. Conductor Bjarte Engeset wrote the CD notes.

R.E.B. (June 2004)