<< -- 3 -- John Bell Young INDIVIDUATED LYRICISM
Ms Rashkovetsky is less persuasive in Brahms' Study No 5, fashioned after Bach's Violin Chaconne in D, which was also made famous in Busoni's later, but superior transcription for two hands. In spite of an impressive command of the material with half the usual allotment of fingers, Ms Rashkovetsky's playing, though attentive and lyrical, fails to identify the rhythmic motors that drive things forward. Specifically, tension is attenuated by her failure to approach the second beat, in virtually every bar, with a certain gravitas; that is, with a slight delay in the placement of that beat. While that kind of rhythmic systole codifies processional nobility, it is also germane to baroque performance practice, particularly in a chaconne. Had she indulged such articulation, her performance would have conveyed much of the grandeur that the work demands. Though sincere, her reading just never quite gets off the ground.
Elsewhere Brahms has a persuasive protagonist in Marianna Rashkovetsky. Her readings of the deftly drafted Three Intermezzi Op 117 are beautifully paced and affectively nuanced. Ms Rashkovetsky is never given to hysteria, or explosive passion, as much as she is to exploring implosive energy that builds, as if by stealth, into something more meaningful and inevitable. That her tone is ravishing and her legato playing so utterly seamless is only a bonus. Unlike the armchair-and-cigar school of Brahms playing, which takes itself so seriously as it gets bogged down by every detail, Ms Rashkovetsky's is fluid and expansive, while cognizant of every harmonic event. These are eminently satisfying accounts that unfold graciously with aforethought. Climaxes are shrewdly conveyed with clarity and power, and what's more, made to matter in a larger context.
The Grieg Sonata has long been a popular work, especially among eager conservatory students. Its technical demands are minimal, though no musician worth his salt could say it's an interpretive breeze, either. Ms Rashkovetsky plays it beautifully, with suave earnestness that often surpasses, for its sheer interpretive logic, the musical content itself. While this sonata poses no specific intellectual challenges, it is an effusive, straightforward affair that benefits from Ms Rashkovetsky's luscious tone and interpretive ardency.