Martino Tirimo plays Rachmaninov

Yoel Levi and Martino Tirimo excel in two Rachmaninov works.

The critically-skewered premiere of Rachmaninov’s First Symphony drove the 24-year old composer to despair. The critic and second-tier composer Cesar Cui led the charge. It was not until 1900 that Sergei Rachmaninov again ventured into composing after a three-year silence during which he had made a modest living as a conductor. That year the premiere of his Second Piano Concerto brought the young composer the success that had evaded him three years before.

Seventeen years later the 1917 Bolshevik revolution caused Rachmaninov to leave for ever his beloved Russia. He first settled in Switzerland, and eventually moved to the United States, where the demands of a new career as concert pianist precluded him from doing much composing, even though his Third and Fourth Piano Concertos provided him with lucrative opportunities to solo as virtuoso pianist.

In 1934, Rachmaninov penned the Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, Op. 43, a set of variations on a theme from Paganini’s Caprice for violin in A minor, a melody already pilfered by Johannes Brahms, in addition to a bit of the medieval chant Dies Irae.

In this Alto re-mastered release of a 1982 recording, Cyprus-born pianist Martino Tirimo excels in an impassionedly muscular and immaculately precise performance of both works, perfectly supported by the idiomatically elegant conducting of Yoel Levi at the helm of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Rafael de Acha                  ALL ABOUT THE ARTS