. . . her energetic style is most dramatically captured at the end of the Third Concerto, galloping along with a coltish exuberance. She negotiates changes in mood and energy with no undue grinding of gears, though you sense an eagerness when reflective moments transform into passages of more sweeping emotional heft.
. . . the recording doesn't disappoint. Each concerto is a perfect showcase for her talent, and she effortlessly tackles all that Rachmaninov's impressive music throws her way -- from lively bubbling semiquavers in the opening of Concerto No. 1, to moments of understated beauty in the famous No. 2. Fans of Rachmaninov's expansive piano melodies and beautifully soupy Romantic moments will not be disappointed, but there's much more to this album than a few hummable tunes. In tackling these huge cornerstones of the piano repertoire in her debut studio album, Valentina Lisitsa proves it's not just Rachmaninov who should be taken seriously.
. . . this is a thoroughly engrossing account of one of the 20th century's greatest bodies of piano works. It has all the power and passion you'd want, without any of the grandstanding and excessive rubato that sometimes goes with it. What makes it different from many competing accounts is that Lisitsa has at many points followed Rachmaninov's own Rachmaninov recordings rather than the published scores. The young Michael Francis does a tremendous job of keeping the music moving while allowing that vital ebb and flow of expression.
. . . [Concertos 1 and 4]: Lisitsa plays both of them with a lot of fire and energy, emphasizing the quite advanced romantic harmonies in No. 1 and treating No. 4 as anything but an unsuccessful sequel to the two that came before. Her command of the keyboard is extraordinary, and one should really look at her videos to see why; her elongated, thin, and flexible fingers, graceful and smooth, make her feats of prestidigitation quite fluent and flawless, and a perfect set of hands needed for a composer like Rachmaninov . . . [her fast tempos] give a new and rather breathtaking dimension . . . [Paganini Variations]: Her playing reminds me . . . of a younger Martha Argerich, the same robust tone and tempestuousness of temperament. Michael Francis learned of Lisitsa's intention via solo recordings that she made of each movement, as they did not have the means to meet before the sessions began. He does a fine job, coaxing the . . . Londoners into some truly inspired playing. Decca's sound is for the most part wide and involving . . . this is what it probably really sounded like in the studio, and the results are most exciting . . . Lisitsa has given us a set fully worthy of her predecessors.
Francis and the London Symphony Orchestra provide consistently world-class, shapely orchestral frameworks and beautifully characterised first-desk solos throughout . . . supple filigree and textural lightness [by Lisitsa] . . . The Second Concerto's first movement fares best, where Lisitsa's rubato in the second subject has an unforced give and take . . . [the brass and winds] make a powerful impact in the Fourth Concerto, which boasts Lisitsa's most sharply characterised playing; note the sustained lyricism in the Largo's extended solo passages and the finale's exciting build-up shortly after the reprise of the first movement's introduction.
Lisitsa's performance is sterling throughout, with the London Symphony Orchestra under Michael Francis proving to be an often unexpectedly softly-spoken partner . . . Lisitsa gives highly personal and modern performances, by turns gently romantic and full of enthusiastic attack.
. . . genuine Russian-school weightiness and transcendental, glittering runs . . . I marveled at the unsentimental fluidity and togetherness with her orchestral colleagues . . . an impressive CD . . . The balancing, so often wrong in Rachmaninov concertos, here keeps the pianist in lively interplay with strings, woodwind solos and some specially distinguished horn phrasing. Lisitsa follows Rachmaninov the pianist's brisk cue, but she doesn't rush . . .
. . . powerhouse performances . . . vivid -- exciting -- passionate. Lisitsa has a commanding technique, and she is equal to Rachmaninov's demands, technically. While her playing could not be described as lush, there's poetry too, and plenty of imagination, despite the fast speeds and forceful execution. The Decca recording is excellent: clear, forward, and very vivid, allowing lots of subtle detail to be heard. The heavy brass sounds very immediate, but the piano is always well-balanced and clear. An impressive achievement!
Lisitsa's interpretations are extroverted but never crass; she has a good, singing line and is tasteful when playing an accompanimental role. She is consistently fleet and impetuous . . . The first theme of the Second has sweep and momentum; the second theme is free but expressive . . . The opening "quasi gliss" of the third movement is spectacular . . . Her fearless tempos in the Fourth Concerto are reminiscent of the composer's own. Her playing is impressively accurate . . . The recording, for the most part, is outstanding. The piano is captured close-up, but orchestral details are still clear . . . Her set is therewith recommended . . .
Lisitsa bringt Melodien zum Schweben und virtuose Passagen zum Glitzern. Dass die 39-Jährige neben einer makellosen Technik auch klare musikalische Vorstellungen hat, wird rasch klar . . . Valentina Lisitsa bringt sich mit dieser Aufnahme als ernst zu nehmende Pianistin ins Gespräch.
Das Ergebnis kann durchweg als gelungen bezeichnet werden. Dank ihrer überragenden pianistischen Fähigkeiten gelingt es Lisitsa, Rachmaninows vollgriffigen Klaviersatz zum Klingen zu bringen, die wieselflinken Tempi, die sie für Ecksätze wählt, bremsen jeden Anflug von Schwulst und Sentimentalität, und in den lyrischen Passagen betört sie mit hoher Legatokultur. Auch die Klangbalance zwischen Klavier und Orchester ist nahe am Optimum.