Magazine article Gramophone

Rachmaninov: Suites-No 1

Magazine article Gramophone

Rachmaninov: Suites-No 1

Article excerpt

Rachmaninov

Suites--No 1, Op 5; No 2, Op 17.

Symphonic Dances, Op 45

Louis Lortie, Helene Mercier pfs

Chandos [F] CHAN10882 (79' * DDD)

The Canadian pianist Helene Mercier has appeared in these pages on and off for more than 20 years, always in partnership with another musician (most notably Cyprien Katsaris and Louis Lortie) and always eliciting enthusiastic reviews. You can see why. She has a chameleon-like ability to blend, spar or float in and out of focus as the need arises. Lortie and she have been playing together since their early teens in Montrea. They have previously recorded two-piano and four-hand works for Chandos by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Poulenc and Ravel, so the three major works for the medium by Rachmaninov were obvious choices.

Lortie and Mercier's choice of instruments was perhaps not so obvious: two identical (and very lively) Faziolis which, as recorded at Potton Hall, allow one to hear the inner workings of these busy scores in crisp detail and bright, resonant colours. The non-stop triplets and semiquavers of 'Barcarolle' in Suite No 1 are somewhat relentless and some may wish for a more mellow tone at times (I confess I found the end of 'Paques' just a bit too bell-like), but for rhythmic verve and precision ensemble, this is Rachmaninov-playing that is hard to resist. …

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