Another memorable pair of transfers from Michael Dutton–and in the first, a fine memorial to the pianism of Prokofiev himself. The concerto was recorded at Abbey Road in London in 1932, the year before Prokofiev returned to live in the Soviet Union after nearly two decades away. His playing in this famous performance crackles and bubbles along, while the LSO is on great form under Piero Coppola, who apparently brought Prokofiev to London for the occasion.
Sarah Chang's new CD of two of the most flavorful Violin Concerti to come out of 20th-century Russia is a winner. The first movement of the Shostakovich finds Chang playing, at first, with no vibrato, and the effect is haunting and as properly spooky as the composer wanted. Her many levels of both dynamics and vibrato are very much on display throughout, and in the Scherzo, she builds to a wonderfully maniacal climax.
Pianist Lise de la Salle has a big tone and a strong technique, but while she is surely up to the technical requirements of Prokofiev's and Shostakovich's first piano concertos, she seems out of her depth in their interpretive demands. She can pound her way through the muscular rhythms and massive sonorities in the outer movements of Prokofiev's concerto but appears immune to the lyrical poetry in the legato lines of the work's central Andante assai.
This is the second of Brilliant's box sets devoted to Russian recordings from Evgeny Kissin. Labeled as early, these live concert performances from 1984 to 1990 carry us from the day after Kissin turned 13 (Mozart Cto. #12 K. 414) to age 18 (Mozart Cto. #20, K. 466), with most readings clustering in the range of 1985-89. Russians were well aware of the marvel in their midst; the pianist's American breakthrough occurred in 1990 when he debuted at Carnegie Hall's centennial season.
Nathan Milstein once described Sergei Prokofievs first violin concerto as: indeed one of the best modern violin concertos a brilliant piece, perhaps the finest of all Prokofievs works, while the second concerto was taken up by violinists such as David Oistrakh and Jascha Heifetz. Here the two works are interpreted by the Ukrainian-born Vadim Gluzman, who as many critics have remarked is firmly based in the glorious tradition of these and other virtuosos of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Chandos’s previous Prokofiev series, recorded in the 80s with Neëme Järvi and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, is still probably the most recommendable complete cycle available. Chandos now seem to feel the need to start again, the reason possibly being that they are now using ‘authentically’ all-Russian forces. Whatever the company’s motivation (or if indeed it is to be a complete cycle), the results are impressively powerful, and the coupling stimulating and generous.