Moscow-born pianist Boris Giltburg has made quite a name for himself in the big Russian piano classics. His Rachmaninoff Second was very fine and the vaunted “Rach 3” is no less impressive. He has the temperament and the technique for this mighty work and squares up to its scale and ambition with great panache. Conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto draws some high-powered yet elegant playing from the Scottish orchestra. The Corelli Variations of 1931, the composer’s last solo work, is an altogether cooler creation—less heart-on-sleeve but equally entrancing. Giltburg scales back and plays it with terrific confidence.
Boris Giltburg's 2016 release on Naxos consists of two sets of piano pieces by Sergey Rachmaninov, the Études-tableaux, Op. 39 (1916-1917), and the Moments musicaux, Op. 16 (1896). The Études-tableaux are a cross between technical studies and character pieces, reminiscent of the etudes of Frédéric Chopin, and they present considerable challenges, even to virtuoso pianists. Here, Giltburg displays his remarkable skills, as well as a range of expressions that run from the fiery and turbulent to the atmospheric and melancholy. In the Moments musicaux, Rachmaninov experimented with short forms, such as the nocturne, etude, funeral march, barcarolle, and theme with variations, and these pieces demonstrated his mastery of piano technique, if not yet his full maturity as a composer. Giltburg's playing brings out a variety of colors and textures, and his passionate interpretations accord with Rachmaninov's youthful, ardent style.