“Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Rachmaninov played with balletic grace and nimbleness by Irish pianist Fiachra Garvey.”

“Sandwiched between these once controversial works was the ever popular Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Rachmaninov played with balletic grace and nimbleness by Irish pianist Fiachra Garvey.

Deadpan wit and balletic playfulness underpinned Garvey’s approach to the Rachmaninov. He made the filigree glisten with his nimble fingerwork while the muscular chords of the 8th variation were well-handled. There was a cool ferocity to his big playing in variations 10 and 13, the Dies irae booming with menacing intent in the former. The dark foreboding chromaticism of variation 17 melted beautifully into rich, warm chords of the famous variation 18. Gerts milked the NSO for every drop of expressiveness here while Garvey attacked its climactic chords with passion. The finale, which features variations 19 to 24, was full of vim and vigour. Doubles octaves, lightning-like leaps and other virtuosic moments were brilliantly dispatched by Garvey who brought the piece to a gripping conclusion. ” By Andrew Larkin