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Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos / Stewart Goodyear

Release Date: 04/14/2015
Label: Steinway & Sons Catalog #: 30047
Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov Performer:  Stewart Goodyear Conductor:  Heiko Mathias Förster Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech National Symphony Orchestra Number of Discs: 1
Recorded in: Stereo Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins.

Stewart Goodyear's second release on Steinway & Sons is a followup to his acclaimed 2014 release of the Tchaikovsky and Grieg Piano Concertos. The Canadian pianist is a notable concert soloist and has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, among many others. In 2013, he gave a series of marathon performances in the U.S. of all the Beethoven piano sonatas, performing the complete cycle in a single, eleven-hour performance at each venue.

R E V I E W S:

"Exultantly phrased, expertly articulated and expansively engineered, these deeply felt, supremely natural readings mark out Canadian
Read more Stewart Goodyear as a first-rate Rachmaninovian.”

-– BBC Music Magazine

Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 owes its existence to a renowned neurologist by the name of Dr. Nikolai Dahl. At the time, the young composer was despondent over the failure of his first symphony in 1897. But under the good doctor’s guidance, he regained his confidence and creative urge – and the result was the most famous of his four piano concertos. To many people’s ears, the piece has almost become too well known since its premiere in 1901. But this fact certainly didn’t deter Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear on this Steinway recording featuring both the second and third concertos performed with the Czech National Symphony, with Heiko Mathias Förster conducting.

Since concluding his studies at the Curtis Institute and the Juilliard School, this Toronto-born artist has earned an international reputation, and this CD provides ample proof. From the opening measures, his approach to the familiar repertoire is bold but elegant, demonstrating a flawless technique that never succumbs to empty virtuosity. Absent too, is any trace of overt sentimentality, something that is all too easy to do with Rachmaninov. The poignant and wistful Adagio and buoyant finale also prove to be a perfect pairing of artist and orchestra, with the CNS performing with a confident assurance under Förster’s baton.

In many ways, the Concerto No.3 from 1909 is an extension of the second, but even more so – larger in scope and perhaps even more technically demanding. Nevertheless, Goodyear and the CNS rise to the occasion with a polished performance certainly equalling – but not necessarily surpassing – established recordings by Argerich and Ashkenazy. Again, soloist and orchestra produce a warmly romantic sound, particularly in the second movement Intermezzo where the delicate interplay between strings and soloist is particularly admirable.

These are fine performances all around – kudos to Goodyear, Förster and the musicians from Prague for tackling this familiar music and for doing it justice in a very compelling way.

-- Richard Haskell, The Whole Note

"...Goodyear is an exceptional artist, and his performances with Heiko Mathias Förster and the Czech National Symphony are worth hearing for their clarity and the balance of technical skill and expressive subtlety. Perhaps the most significant point to make about this disc is Goodyear's restoration of the full score of the Third Concerto, which was cut by Rachmaninov in an attempt to popularize it. Beyond that, there are no surprises, just reliable performances that offer equal portions of virtuosity and emotion. Rendered with taste and intelligence by Goodyear."

-- Blair Sanderson, All Music Guide
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