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Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Boris Giltburg

By (October 8, 2013) No Comment

orchidclassicsorc100035Boris Giltburg: Romantic sonatas

Winning one of the four top piano competitions is supposed to change your life with a dazzle of big dates and a major label contract. Boris Giltburg has resisted the instant temptations, sticking with a niche label for his first two releases after taking the Queen Elisabeth contest by storm.

His three sonatas are nicely contrasted – Rachmaninov’s morose second in B-flat minor, Grieg’s wintry wander through Norwegian woods and Liszt’s big half-hour bruiser in B minor, all three elucidated in thoughtful sleeve notes by the artist himself.

No corporate label would have countenanced so unyielding a display of serious intent, and Giltburg might have done this release a favour by appending a soft encore for less rigorous listeners. On the other hand, if he wants the world to respect his sincerity, he could hardly have picked a stronger set. The playing is an unalloyed delight, rich in character, devoid of distracting tricks and with no surplus artillery noise in the Liszt. Giltburg is a pianist you will want to hear live. Clap long enough and he might even smile up an encore.

Norman Lebrecht is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and other publications. He has written 12 books about music, the most recent being Why Mahler? He hosts the blog Slipped Disc.