Monday, January 30, 2017

Finally, a Russian!

I've been searching a long time for a true Russian to play Rachmaninoff's "Prelude No. 5 in G minor, Op. 23."

The best I had come up with, until now, was Sviatoslav Richter's version. It's almost perfect.

Today, I found perfection. Boris Beresovky.

Why is this the case?

His tempo is slow enough for the creation of sufficient spiritual energy to gather around the written music. And during this gathering, old Slavic ambiances are drawn into the inexorable swirl. This fellow digs down into the vodka-hued substance.

When the tempo is too fast, cultural inflection and archetypal rhythm aren't allowed to emerge from the score. It's a waste of time listening to this -- my favorite prelude -- when it's played too swiftly, played by those who either hector or are indifferent to the Russian musical spirits. This composition must be played with a breathed poise and a cultural sensitivity. Otherwise, its peculiar blend of polka and gravitas -- as if emblematic of a bronze horse's statuesque strutting -- will be missed.

I don't know anything about this pianist, other than what his prelude performance reveals -- a Slavic character and an artistic imagination. For all I know, everything else he has recorded sucks. I tend to doubt it, though.

Apparently, the CD is unavailable from primary sources but can be ordered from Amazon's associated sellers:


  1. Methinks you are right. Most pianists play this prelude too quickly for my taste (especially the beginning). I heard this prelude played live for the first time when I was 11 years old, and subsequently I purchased a set of cassette tapes of recordings of all of the preludes by Augustin Anievas, which I listened to repeatedly until they were no longer playable. He played this one too quickly, of course, but I could slow it down, savor it in my mind. Lisitsky and others rush brilliantly, blindly through. Ashkenazy's version is one of the richest I could find online, but the tempo is too quick. I rejoice the imagery of the bronze horseman! Such a St. Petersburg reference. Well done.

    1. Thanks! I was so pleased to finally come across a version that matched up with what was sounding in my imagination.