Album review

Xiayin Wang/RSNO/Oundjian

Tchaikovsky and Scriabin Piano Concertos


IT was surely an entirely unintended coincidence the Peter Oundjian’s successor as music director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Thomas Sondergard programmed a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 in the same week as the orchestra’s new recording of the same work was issued. But if anyone who enjoyed Alexander Gavrylyuk’s incendiary performance of the work as part of the concert marking the 175th anniversary of the RSNO chorus bought this disc on the strength of it (as would not be entirely unlikely), they would be in for an educative surprise.

From those famous opening bars we are in entirely different territory here. Rather than the Russian’s fireworks and Sondergard’s dramatic touch, US-domiciled Chinese pianist Xiayin Wang and Oundjian bring a very measured approach to the work, her keyboard technique the model of refinement.

This disc is a companion piece to the same partnership’s recording of the Second Concerto which was teamed with the Khachaturian Piano Concerto. If that disc was admired less for the later work, the boot is arguably on the other foot this time around. However much you admire the refinement of her playing, it is hard to not to pine for a little more pzazz in Wang’s account of the First Concerto, while her precision suits the Scriabin very well indeed.

By way of a bonus, there is the single movement of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.3 from his last years. It is much less often heard, and Oundjian and Wang make the most persuasive case for it.

Keith Bruce