Behzod Abduraimov - Debussy - Chopin - Mussorgsky - American Record Guide

This is a big, standard repertoire recital that displays the Uzbek pianist’s wide-ranging abilities. Abduraimov (b. 1990) has impressive performing credentials, and his debut recital disc was very favorably reviewed (Decca 4783301, Nov/Dec 2012). Here he puts himself head to head with the great pianists of the last century. All in all, he fares quite well, though I would not select any of these as my top pick among dozens (hundreds?) of recordings available. In Pictures at an Exhibition Abduraimov does very little “messing around” with Moussorgsky’s score. From Horowitz’s extremes (RCA 49925, Nov/Dec 2009) to absolutely faithful-to-the-score performances like Ashkenazy’s (London 414386) I lean toward the Ashkenazy approach, but accept some of the minor adjustments a lot of pianists make to the score. Abduraimov adds some tremolos to `Gnomus’ and unnecessarily keeps the threechords- to-a-bar rhythm going (in the left hand) in the final statement of the main theme of `The Great Gate of Kiev’. This bothered me, because the changes between three and two per measure add to the majesty and effectiveness of the final two pages. Ravel and others have made various decisions when orchestrating it, but the piano writing seems very clear to me. The `Hut of Baba Yaga’ here is one of the best available—fast, clear, accurate, and exciting, with a great contrasting middle section. Debussy’s Children’s Corner, or movements of it, may be played by younger pianists on a regular basis; but it is, like Schumann’s Kinderszenen, very much an adult view of childhood. It poses no significant technical difficulties, which makes the musical aspect of the work all the more important. Abduraimov is not quite on the level of Michelangeli (DG 415372). It has become fashionable to play all 24 of Chopin’s Preludes as a unit. I first heard them that way in an Ashkenazy recital back in the 1970s. Of course, every pianist learns some of these, usually starting at a fairly early stage in their development. They do run the gamut in terms of difficulty—and much to my chagrin, there are some that I’ll never play. I found that Abduraimov did keep the set moving well from one to the next, and he has no problems with the difficult ones. Recorded sound from Alpha is way above average and the booklet essay enjoyable. After hearing this I am disappointed that I missed him on the main stage of Carnegie Hall playing this exact program (plus some juicy encores) just before the pandemic closed things down. 

American Record Guide
04 May 2021