Simon Trpceski

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 Sergei Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos 1 & 4; Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini

Rach 1&4 - CD COVER     Rach 1&4 - CD BACKCOVER       

  Piano Concerto no. 1 in F sharp minor
  Piano Concerto no. 4 in G minor

  Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in A minor

  Simon Trpceski - piano
  Vasily Petrenko - conductor
  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Dream team together on record – Trpčeski, Petrenko and Rachmaninov

Middle C , Classical Music Reviews , Wellington, New Zealand, September 18, 2011

By Peter Mechen

The second movement opens enchantingly, strings, Trpčeski‘s piano and the winds taking turns to weave undulating patterns of finely-spun emotion, the music’s ebb and flow and brief irruption of energy easily and naturally brought into being.  After Petrenko’s terse opening to the finale the music expands with explosive energies towards climaxes, furious piano playing initiating steadily growing momentums which the strings-and-piano fugato gathers up and races towards the release of the big tune’s reappearance.The scherzando passage is galvanized by Trpčeski each time he joins the fray, culminating in a spectacular keyboard flourish and a grand and forthright final statement of the tune – glorious!

The Diapason d'Or of the month - September 2011

Diapason d’Or Magazine

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MusicWeb International

By John Quinn

And what a soloist Trpčeski is! Looking back through my listening notes I find terms such as “delicate and refined” (Variation 12), “light and lithe” (Variation 15) and “dexterous” (also Variation 15). I also noted the gentle gravitas that he and Petrenko bring to Variation 7. And the opportunities for display are grasped as well. Variations 8 and 9, for example, storm away at a fine lick, though the pace is expertly controlled. And from Variation 19 onwards pianist and conductor bring the piece home in style with vivacious virtuosity. As for the celebrated Variation 18, the way for which is beautifully prepared during Variation 17, Trpčeski’s way with it is poised and lyrical. When the orchestra joins him, the music is played warmly and romantically, as it should be, but any temptation to wallow in a Big Tune is rightly resisted. All in all this is a very fine account of the Rhapsody and I can’t imagine any purchasers who are drawn principally by this work will be disappointed.

…Trpčeski was put on this earth to play this music and Petrenko to conduct it!

Gramophone Magazine

By Geoffrey Norris

Trpčeski, Petrenko and the RLPO here join forces for the eagerly awaited follow-up to their Avie recording of Rachmaninov’s Second and Third Piano Concertos (4/10). Expectations are fully realised in performances of the highest order. Listening to the earlier disc, it was clear that Trpčeski was put on this earth to play this music and Petrenko to conduct it. The RLPO’s sound has been finely fashioned to Rachmaninov’s needs; it phrases with a breadth, warmth and sensibility that form an ideal counterpart to the piano’s solo role.

Rachmaninov himself spoke of the “youthful freshness” that he retained in the 1917 revision of the 1890‑91 First Concerto and that is precisely the quality that comes through here, coupled with Trpčeski’s mature, judicious, thoroughly natural way of coaxing out the music’s melodic content, and his phenomenal command of the concerto’s bravura demands – demands that he meets with such a well-chosen kaleidoscope of colour and wondrous variety of touch. In the Fourth Concerto (here played in the customary “definitive” version of 1941) the aura of nostalgia and brooding is voiced with a rare understanding of the music’s light and shade and its ominous undercurrents. These are offset by firmly harnessed energy and expressive subtleties, which in the Paganini Rhapsody fuel a luminous performance of delicacy, sparkle and poignancy. This is a riveting disc, another major landmark for Trpčeski and one on which Rachmaninov finds interpreters thoroughly attuned to his emotional world.


By John Fleming, St. Petersburg Times

Why we care: The Macedonian pianist Simon Trpceski brings elegant style and daunting technique to Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto Nos. 1 and 4 plus the swoony Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. His partners are Russian conductor Vasily Petrenko and England's Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

Why we like it: Because these are not the most frequently played Rachmaninoff piano concertos - those would be Nos. 2 and 3 - it is appealing to hear the first and fourth in Trpceski's nimble fingers. Petrenko takes a slam-bam approach with the orchestra.

CD of the Week

Classic fM, July 23, 2011

David Mellor recommends

David's CD of the Week is a stunning Rachmaninov album

CLASSIC fM Magazine - Editor's Choice, August 2011

By Jane Jones

… The Music Sometimes dismissed as 'the others', the first and last of Rachmaninov's piano concertos might be less familiar than his two blockbusters, but they represent his musical transition from Imperial Russia to downtown Hollywood.

The Performance Pianist Trpceski relishes Rachmaninov, thrilling his audience with virtuosic passages which easily demonstrate why these pieces in particular were important vehicles for Rachmaninov the exiled pianist. Petrenko maintains timing and tension, whilst never allowing lush lyricism to become stodgy or overwhelming. The Paganini Variations are delivered with both wit and warmth, with a strong melodic line. In fact, all three works sound fresh, dynamic and vital.

The Verdict Already attracting labels like 'dream team', this is a musical combination which works superbly, and this much anticipated follow up to their earlier Rachmaninov recording demonstrates a fabulous level of skill, artistry and appreciation.


From the opening fanfare, the orchestra declares its intentions and Petrenko delivers terrific pace and imagination, combining drama and sensitivity. A delicately balanced, involving sound provides Trpceski with the perfect platform.


Trpceski is honest, direct and fully committed to every note, bringing a sharp clarity to his performance. He can dance and dream, cry and console to the demands of the music with subtlety and style.

Want More? Trpceski and the RLPO's first Rachmaninov CD is dazzling (Avie, AV2912).

BBC Music Magazine - August 2011

By Calum MacDonald

Simon Trpceski established himself six years ago as a Rachmaninov-interpreter to be reckoned with in a thrilling solo recital from EMI. His recording of Concertos Nos 2 and 3 for Avie, to which the present CD is the follow-up, garnered glowing opinions from the UK musical press. Concertos 1 and 4 (both heard here in the customary revised versions) have never been such sure-fire crowd-pleasers, but Trpceski certainly plays them with fire and passion. No.1 emerges as big-boned and compelling, while he plays up the leanly modernist aspects of No.4, the work that really announced a sea-change in Rachmaninov's aesthetic. Trpceski is aided throughout by the unanimity of feeling produced by Vassily Petrenko's direction of the orchestra, conductor and pianist working hand in glove.  The development section and drive to the first-movement climax in Concerto No.4, for instance, taken at what seems a hair-raising speed yet crystal clear and very exciting, would hardly be possible without an instinctive sense of partnership between them.  The Paganini Rhapsody is a superb interpretation, all muscle and sinewy rhythm but also has great warmth (though without an ounce of undue sentiment) in the slow and lyrical variations.  The 'big tune' of the 18th variation has a kind of ecstatic sobriety.  The field is very crowded in these works, with, for example, a stunning Paganini Variations from Yuja Wang, a Fourth Concerto from Leif Ove Andsnes that sounded definitive, not to mention Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli in this work, and the composer himself, peerless in all three pieces.  But this is a generous coupling, squeezing all three big works onto one disc, and there is no doubt that Trpceski is a splendid contender.

CD of the week

The Sunday Times, July 03, 2011

By Hugh Canning

The young Macedonian virtuoso teams up again with Petrenko’s blossoming RLPO to complete their outstanding survey of Rachmaninov’s works for piano and orchestra. This programme of the two “unpopular” concertos — the early F sharp minor, completed in 1892, when the composer was only 18, and the late G minor, of 1926 — and the immortal Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini is finer still than their coupling of the eternally beloved Second and Third Concertos. What I find so captivating about these superb young musicians’ Rachmaninov is its lack of bombast and gooey false sentiment. They give due emotional weight to the sense of loss Rachmaninov conveys in the andante of the F sharp minor — revised in 1917, as he was contemplating departure from Russia during the revolution — and in the largo of the G minor, permeated with nostalgia and homesickness for the country he would never see again.

Trpceski captures the music’s protean mood switches to perfection, his mercurial fingers dashing off the vivace flourishes of the outer movements and the most brilliant Paganini variations with insouciant bravura and brio. He makes this staggeringly difficult music sound easy and beguilingly light on its feet. These performances are a meeting of dazzling musical minds, offering an untraditional approach that never sounds wilful, attention-seeking or eccentric.

The Observer, June 26, 2011

By Fiona Maddocks

These concertos span Rachmaninov's career, from his farewell to Russia (the piano concerto No 1 of 1891) to his uneasy exile in the new world, where he encountered 1920s jazz and big bands but wrote works which were understood neither as old or new (his piano concerto No 4 of 1927). Eventually he had success with his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, premiered in Baltimore in 1934. According to the CD essay, the baleful pianist-composer downed a crème de menthe before every performance – not, as far as one can tell, a requirement here. The virtuosi Macedonian Simon Trpčeski and St Petersburg-born Vasily Petrenko combine in taut, poetic performances with notably coruscating brass playing from an RLPO on impressive and expressive form.

Yorkshire post, 24 June 2011


Two of today’s most charismatic musicians, conductor, Vasily Petrenko, and pianist, Simon Trpceski, combine in a dazzlingly brilliant account of the First Concerto that often throws caution to the wind, and then shows more discretion in a perfectly articulated and stunning account of the Fourth. Lots of charm and sparkling vivacity in the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Trpceski’s technically immaculate playing partnered by Petrenko’s highly detailed response from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.

Good sound quality.

Classical Candor, June 21, 2011

By John J. Puccio

In any case, with pianist Simon Trpceski and conductor Vasily Petrenko (who earlier gave us the two middle concertos) the First Concerto is dreamy when it needs to be dreamy, powerful, dramatic, sentimental, and sensitive when it needs to be powerful, dramatic, sentimental and sensitive. Trpceski and Petrenko play as one, with the pianist providing the substance and the conductor and orchestra filling in the accompaniment as though a part of the piano. In other words, they work well together.
Again, the pianist and conductor are at one, the piano hopping, skipping, and jumping around the Paganini variations, and both the piano and the orchestra countering with the funeral tune. Trpceski displays his dazzling finger work and Petrenko his unfailingly sympathetic support to produce a remarkably moving new interpretation of the score.

By Colin Anderson
For all that pianists will (correctly) identify the Fourth Piano Concerto (which was also heavily revised) as Rachmaninov’s greatest it remains something of an outsider to general music-lovers. It may not give its secrets up easily, and it has a sophistication of invention and orchestration that requires ‘special’ listening, but the rewards are many. Clearly Trpčeski believes in its every note and gives himself time to shape its many wonders, not least the sweeping opening, here measured to heroism and to ensure that the woodwinds’ all-important contributions are properly articulated (although Petrenko might have brought the trumpets out more). That slight lapse on the conductor’s part aside, this is a marvellously flexible account that appreciates Rachmaninov had moved on from earlier successes and was not repeating himself; the music, while no less glorious, is now concentrated, edgier, and the relationship between piano and orchestra is crucial to understanding the piece, and needs to be painstakingly prepared. It certainly has been for this recording and it completes a notable release, blessed with outstanding sound.

The Daily Telegraph, June 16, 2011

By Geoffrey Norris

As with their Avie coupling of the Second and Third Concertos (AV2192) last year, Simon Trpceski, Vasily Petrenko and the RLPO bring understanding and instinct to their performances, and take to heart the different temperaments that each of the three works on this recording manifests.

If the First Concerto is essentially music of youthful optimism, the Fourth is shot through with far more hints of deep nostalgia and, at times, agonised brooding. The Fourth Concerto in the “definitive” 1941 version, played here, is markedly different from the one Rachmaninoff conceived in the 1920s. The concerto’s outer movements have a new, almost menacing energy and darker undercurrents that this performance brings out.

Here, as in the First Concerto and Paganini Rhapsody, the judicious variety of touch and colour, and ability to reveal important details of the music, combine with an expressive maturity to make these performances utterly compelling.