A new, top recommendation for Rachmaninov’s Études-tableaux

Rachmaninov: Études-tableaux, Op. 33 & Op. 39

Steven Osborne (piano)

Rachmaninov’s Études-Tableaux are ‘musical evocations of external visual stimuli’ or ‘picture pieces’. However, the composer did not disclose what inspired each one, stating: “I do not believe in the artist that discloses too much of his images. Let [the listener] paint for themselves what it most suggests.”

This essentially lyrical new account from Steven Osborne, with its fresh approach, leaves the listener in no doubt as to the quality of these pieces. The Allegro in C major of Op. 33 is played with great depth of feeling and expression as befits the piece. Osborne’s outstanding technique ensures that such a fiendishly difficult piece as the Non allegro—Presto in E-flat minor comes across superbly as the pianist negotiates the numerous octave leaps and chromatic scales.

This is playing of the highest order and Steven Osborne gives the listener every opportunity to “paint for themselves what each étude most suggests” in these imaginative and slightly mysterious performances. This is now our top recommendation for these works and is a must buy recording for all Rachmaninov lovers and those with an interest in fine piano playing.

iClassical rating: 

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