Ingolf Wunder / Vladimir Ashkenazy / St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra TCHAIKOVSKY & CHOPIN

To describe Ingolf Wunder's performances as couched in a kind of neo-Mozartian aesthetic isn't to criticise but to applaud them . . . These are warm-blooded, big-boned, panoramic accounts, richly and subtly expressive without displaying a hint of bombast or manipulative self-indulgence. They are remarkably alike in their natural balance and their "symphonic" demonstration of unity achieved through diversity . . . Vladimir Ashkenazy is very much more than an accomplished and insightful accompanist. He is a fully fledged, generous partner, weaving the variegated orchestral strands into a polyphonic tapestry of timbres, perfectly suited to offset and enhance the very different sounds of the piano. Wunder, meanwhile, easily distracts us, when it's appropriate, from the essentially percussive nature of his instrument, not least when he uses his power, depth of sound and breadth of phrasing to meet the orchestra on its own terms -- as in the first movement of the Tchaikovsky. Indeed this is one of the most subtly and illuminatingly coloured accounts of this work I've encountered . . . these are both outstanding performances. (Jeremy Siepmann, BBC Music Magazine)

The orchestra is superlative, the conductor an elder statesman, the young prize-winning pianist a model of cultivated style . . . The recorded sound is the single best thing, since it blends the orchestra and piano together so beautifully -- there's no highlighting of the soloist, making this the only recording of the Tchaikovsky First in my experience where the pianist's opening chords don't crash and bang. Second best is the gorgeous playing from the St. Petersburg Philharmonic . . . Ashkenazy's contribution from the podium is expert . . . This leaves only Wunder to consider, and I'd say he fits into the package perfectly. His touch is exquisite in its lightness. Passagework is amazingly even; he never indulges in a vulgar gesture . . . Wunder is a sterling soloist in both works. (Huntley Dent, Fanfare)

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