Combined, Prokofiev’s three suites from Romeo include about half of the score. Still, most conductors who want to give us a full CD (or even a full LP) of Romeo pick their own extracts from the complete ballet instead of stringing together the suites. That’s probably at least partly because they don’t share Prokofiev’s preferences when it comes to favorite moments—but it’s also because, as written, the suites are organized for musical rather than narrative coherence, and thus provide little sense of the play’s dramatic trajectory. One way around the second of these issues, of course, is to reorder the suites: that’s, for instance, what Mitropoulos does with selections from the more popular First and Second. Here Andrew Litton pushes that idea to its limit, giving us all 20 movements of the three suites “in the order the music appears in the ballet score.”
Rather than play any single complete suite (of the three) that Prokofiev extracted from the complete ballet, Myung-Whun Chung makes his own selection of numbers, roughly following the plot line and including music representative of all the major characters. Although some other collections offer more music, this hour of Romeo and Juliet makes a satisfying presentation on its own. What makes the performance special is the spectacular playing of the Dutch orchestra. Frankly, it's never been done better. From the whiplash virtuosity of the violins to the bite of the trombones and the firm thud of the bass drum, this is the sound the composer must have dreamed of.
Along with Wit's Naxos recording, this is one of the best versions of Messiaen's phantasmagoric Turangalîla-Symphonie available, and it's very different: swifter, more obviously virtuosic in concept, perhaps a touch less warm in consequence, and engineered with greater “in your face” immediacy. The playing of the Concertgebouw, always a wonderful Messiaen orchestra, is stunning throughout. Chailly revels in the music's weirdness. The Ondes Martinot, for example, is particularly well captured. It's interesting how earlier performances tended to minimize its presence, perhaps for fear that is would sound silly, which of course it does, redeemed by the composer's utter seriousness and obliviousness to anything that smacks of humor. In any case, it's not all noise and bluster. The Garden of Love's Sleep is gorgeous, hypnotic, but happily still flowing, while the three Turangalîla rhythmic studies have remarkable clarity. Jean-Yves Thibaudet plays the solo piano part magnificently, really as well as anyone else ever has.
This awaited release is the first disc in a series of Olli Mustonen and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hannu Lintu performing the Piano Concertos by Sergei Prokofiev. Without a doubt some of the most substantial twentieth century masterworks, Prokofievs piano concertos prove the composers brilliant piano skills. The composer premiered his First Piano Concerto in 1914. The Third Piano Concerto is the most popular of Prokofievs concertos. The piece took several years to complete, and premiered in Chicago in 1921. Prokofievs Fourth Piano Concerto (for the left hand) is the most rarely heard of the three concertos featured on this recording.
Throughout her lengthy artistic career, pianist Martha Argerich has experienced many heights and depths: moments of "crisis" in which she hasn't always seemed prepared to offer the full extent of her artistic insights, but also many, many times when she has managed simultaneously to come into her own and to completely lose herself in music-making. Fortunately it's the latter snapshot of Argerich's career that this CD captures, drawing from two live recitals Argerich gave at Amsterdam's Concertgebouw in 1978 and 1979.
Third release on Ondine by the Austrian star violinist Benjamin Schmid contains fresh arrangements of well-known piano pieces by Shostakovich and Prokofiev for violin and piano. Also included is a suite transcribed from Kurt Weill's iconic ‘The Threepenny Opera'. All the three original works by the composers were written during the 1910s and 1920s.
This eleven CD box set from Korean violinist Kyung-Wha Chung combines her complete Warner Recordings produced in the period 1978/2000. Just to be clear: these are her recordings on EMI and not those released on Decca. Kyung-Wha Chung is an outstanding artist deserving of her elevated ranking in the pantheon of violinists and this set is a confident reminder of why she is so highly placed.