To make thrice familiar repertoire sound fresh and vibrant without resorting to eccentricity or distortion is easier said than done, yet the Turkish-born-Vienna-based pianist Emre Yavuz does precisely that throughout this Rachmaninov release. His Bösendorfer grand may lack the cutting edge of the best Steinways, yet Yavuz clearly revels in the instrument’s striking registral differentiation and juicy ringing bass, and produces colossal sonorities that never lapse into banging.
For the Second sonata, the pianist opts for the composer’s original 1913 edition over the more compact 1931 revision. Yet Yavuz’s proportioned rhetorical gestures, ear for harmonic tension, and parsing of inner voices downplay the music’s prolix tendencies.
Similarly mindful virtuosity informs the Op, 23 Preludes. Note how Yavuz contours the C minor No. 7’s swirling figurations, melodic components, and long bass lines in an almost chamber-like perspective. If the D minor No. 3’s grounded swagger falls by the wayside due to Yavuz’s brisk tempo, his comparable vigor appropriately galvanizes the G minor No. 5’s marching outer sections.
By contrast, the D major No. 4’s interweaving textures sometimes lapse into square, predictable patterns and never quite take gentle wing in the manner of Sergei Babayan’s sublime recently released DG recording. Yet I like how Yavuz voices the A-flat No. 8’s arpeggiated figurations in a multitude of light and shade. And what lithe, effortless double notes adorn the E-flat minor No. 9: it’s surely one of this prelude’s most supple renditions on disc. I hope to hear more from Emre Yavuz; he’s certainly a pianist to keep on one’s radar.