Russian rapture in Ashkenazy’s Rachmaninov

Poetic sensitivity and virtuosity in Rachmaninov's gorgeous Vocalise from a master performer, but not an overwhelming impact.

Composer: Rachmaninov
Repertoire: Moments musicaux
Artists: Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)

Rating:  3/5 
Genre: Instrumental
Label: Decca 475 6198

Ashkenazy is a master Rachmaninovian, as is testified by blazing 1970s accounts of the piano concertos with André Previn, and impassioned 1980s recordings of the symphonies. He is still a formidable virtuoso, yet compared to the overwhelming impact of Gavrilov in the Moments musicaux and Shelley’s rapt poetry in the Morceaux de fantasie, he sounds a shade uninvolving in the lesser-known works. The Vocalise, however, is sheer poetry.