An impressive (and courageous) debut recording by young Turkish pianist Emre Yavuz who counts Fazil Say as one of his many teachers. He has competed in a number of competitions, winning prizes internationally, including awards in 2007 and 2010 for his Chopin interpretations. Here he tackles the notoriously difficult original 1913 version of the Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-Flat Minor, Op. 36 by Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943). A piano work of such high note density as to almost be considered orchestral in scope. Rachmaninov himself revised it in 1931 in an attempt to tone it down, but some critics say he went a bit too far. The great Vladimir Horowitz even created his own edition which combined the best of the two. Further proof of its complexity lies in the fact that the fingerings in some editions were annotated by virtuoso extraordinaire Marc-André Hamelin.
Most admirable is how, even in the thorniest and taxing passages, Emre Yavuz never loses track of the composer's narrative and manages to flesh out every minute detail buried under a deluge of notes. Speaking from personal experience, when playing a technically demanding passage, it seems that the nervous system takes over and you lose control over the music as your engagement becomes robotic. Well that's definitely not the case here. And it goes without saying that the glowing intensity so typical to Rachmaninov within the slow and innermost moments is perfectly captured and projected under this pianist's highly expressive playing. The disc concludes with the Op. 23 set of Preludes, a group of pieces with which every musician undertaking the music of Rachmaninov cuts his coat according to his cloth. The audio clip below is from the better known Prelude No. 5 in which you can witness for yourself the expressive and dynamic intensity of Emre Yavuz. Definitely an up-and-coming musician to keep on your radar.