International Piano September 2019

Phillip Kawin, Gerard Schwarz and the Russian National Orchestra

Phillip Kawin’s performances are always deeply considered: he follows in a lineage from Cortot and was influenced by Dora Zaslavsky Koch, a student of Bauer and Backhaus. Kawin’s reading of the Beethoven C minor concerto combines a strong grasp of structure with intense concentration on detail, as did his previously issued Appassionata.

Filmed in Moskow’s Rachmaninov Concert Hall without an audience, the camera angles selected by director Paul Carasco (himself a pianist) are pertinent and imaginative. Against a calm blue background, orchestra and soloist deliver an interpretation of maturity and grandeur. Readers who know the old Bishop Kovacevich/Davis BBC version will find parallels.

The RNO, with antiphonal violins, is highly disciplined and there is clear rapport between Kawin and Schwarz. The finale is most impressive of all, glittering yet with enough space for lyricism. The Blu-ray format offers enhanced visual clarity.

By Colin Clarke

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