Denis Kozhukhin was the soloist for the Prom 8 at the Royal Albert Hall, performing Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under their principal guest conductor, Dalia Stasevska. The concert took place on July 20th, and the program also included works by Jóhann Jóhannsson, Hildur Guðnadóttir, and Tchaikovsky.
You can listen to the BBC Radio broadcast of the concert HERE
“As a performance, this Rachmaninov was a meeting of souls between Kozhukhin and Stasevska.”
“No doubting the fluency of Kozhukhin, nor the ideal pacing; the BBC Symphony Orchestra was on its best behavior, too, with a notably expressive first horn solo from Nicholas Korth in the first movement.”
“The finale was high-voltage, but not just super-virtuoso, but notable for the amount of detail (particularly woodwind) audible from the orchestra.”
“An encore, after the rapturous ovation accorded to Kozhukhin, was inevitable, and it could hardly have contrasted more (although still staying with Russia); the chorale-like ‘Mama’, No.4 from Tchaikovsky’s 1878 Children’s Album.”
“Then, as the final soft chord hung on the air, the Russian pianist Denis Kozhukhin launched into the familiar sequence of swelling chords that begins Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto. This famous opening can sometimes be indulgently slow, but Kozhukhin remembered that it is only an introduction, not the main event, and brought us quickly to the main melody, while on the podium, Stasevska stood poised like a relay runner ready to take over. That combination of eager sensitivity and intelligence marked the whole performance, and it made the piece seem young and vital, rather than the sumptuous, over-upholstered star vehicle it can so easily become.”
“The pianist was Denis Kozhukhin, who did not take a heroic, look-at-me approach but played with humility and sensitivity. His restraint was compensated for by Dalia Stasevska, who was flamboyance itself, living every moment of the piece, as she did later with Tchaikovsky. The slow movement was pitched to perfection, bookended by Richard Hosford’s gorgeous clarinet solo and Kozhukhin’s magical placement of the final notes.”