Prokofiev: The Five Piano Concertos
Prokofiev: The Five Piano Concertos

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Customer Reviews:

  • Very Good
    This 2 CD set includes all five piano concertos of Prokofiev. This obviously means you can find a perfomance of the second piano concerto, which does not have many individual recordings, even though it would deserve to have been recorded numerous times. The set itself makes a point of stressing the importance of the second piano concerto and the effort the pianist has put into its performance. Toradze and Gergiev have worked extensively together on all of Prokofiev's piano concertos. The resut is very good and this set is worth buying if only to get an exceptional performance of the 2nd piano concerto. Although I own performances of the 1st and 3rd by Argerich (the recent one on EMI with the Montreal SO and Dutoit conducting) and the 5th by Richter, I can't claim to be qualified to make any comparisons. Still, I think I could write a few words. Argerich's 3rd is widely regarded to be among the best interpretations (usually in reference to the DG recording), but that doesn't mean that Toradze is not good. Personally I was equally impressed by both; even though I haven't heard her with the Berlin Philarmonic and Abbado, I am quite sure that her own performance can only have got better over time. In any case you can buy the set in question at a very good price, especially if you look around. I haven't heard Ashkenazy's set.

    In short I think it is an excellent choice to get this. Firstly you won't find many interpretations of the 2nd out there. Secondly and most importanly all five concertos are excellently performed, even if individually they would perhaps just lose out against reference performances by Argerich or Richter. ...more info
  • A Thought Provoking Set
    These are very thoughtful performances of the Prokofiev piano concertos. I have been privileged to attend performances of the Second Concerto with Alexander Toradze as soloist and the Kirov, conducted by Varlery Gergiev, on two occasions. They have been memorable experiences that led me to purchase this set. I have played the discs many times and recommend them highly.

    These are what is described as full-blooded performances: Gergiev and Toradze perform to their utmost. The concertos are the produce of a collaboration of soloist and conductor, and Gergiev and Toradze have performed these works together many times. The Third Concerto may raise some eyebrows with the slower tempos taken in the second movement but it is a refreshing performance of this often recorded work. The Second Concerto is close to Toradze's heart. In fact, he contributed notes on this concerto in the booklet that accompanies the set. The First, Fourth and Fifth concertos are superbly played. In short, this is a set that will surprise and delight. I would recommend this set of concertos to anyone curious about exploring Prokofiev's works in this form and also to those who already familiar with them....more info

  • Welcome this rendition of the 2nd concerto
    I welcome Toradze's playing of the 2nd here with Gergiev. John Browning's version with Eric Liensdoft has been my favorite for many years. It too is out on release with the others in a set. Toradze performance here is poised power ready to spring into incredible passion, with an angularity that is a welcome change from the smoother romances. This concerto is among the greatest ever devised. You cannot go wrong with several wonderful interpretations of it. If you want only one, this one is fine, distinctive for its slower, angular lines in the opening movement....more info
  • Pity the sound is so bad
    I just listened to this album. I have 3 other sets these concerti- the Ashkenazy, the Mehta, and the Kurt Masur. I also have individual recordings of almost all the rest (the 2nd and 4th are rarely recorded individually).
    I think that Gergiev is marvelous here and that Toradze is also a great pianist. I do not agree with the interpretations in some cases but I respect the fact that there are different interpretations then my own.
    So why did I give this 3 stars? I am surprised that none of the other reviewers mentioned that there is a horrible treble noise riding above alot of this album. I first noticed it in the 2nd concerto. It's as if the pianist was talking or mumbling or something and they tried to take it out and a noise resulted -- like in the Glen Gould case where he used to sing along and the mixers tried to get his singing out of the album. Listen to the first movement of the 2nd concerto expecially during minutes 7-10 and you will hear this. I heard this in my car first and was totally distracted by it. I thought I had problems with my system. Then I listened to it at home, and I heard the same thing.
    In addition, the sound level of this recording is very low, while there is dynamic sound. However to get this sound, you need to turn the volume up really high which is not really healthy. For those of you who will say that this was the cause of the treble noise, it is not true. I listened over and over and played with the volume and tried different things with the equalizer. Nothing got rid of it.
    As a result, I am giving a set of discs whose performance warrants 5 stars -- only 3 stars. I think that it is a pity that this is the case and that if this was caused by removing the pianists voice, better to keep it in there and hear the whole thing than to ruin a wonderful performance the way that the mixers did here.
    Sorry to burst the line of 5 stars that this album got, but someone has to say this. If you get the album beware that there is treble noise and you will need to decide if you want to deal with this or not....more info
  • Two mavericks tackle some war horses and find much that's new
    This set defines what I look for when I get the umpteenth version of some piece of music: new insights, ways of hearing the familiar with fresh ears. I don't mean difference for difference's sake, but rather an intelligent rethinking.

    The controversial maestro Valery Gergiev often gives us this. He encounters some grief for it sometimes, and some of his ideas are far from perfect. But I'd rather have a rethinking than a retread, a Mengelberg rather than a Mehta, a Pogorelich instead of an Ax. And that's what we have here. Surely there are lots of opinions to the opposite of my praise. The "Prokofiev Page" rates this set as the *worst* for his complete concertos, giving it one and a half stars. Their review, which is one of the most idiotic I've ever read for anything, and which can be summed up by, "I don't like it because they don't things the way I'm used to hearing them," can be found here:

    These five concertos are given the fireworks treatment, BUT if it's just fireworks you're looking for, look elsewhere. As some other reviewers have noted, these aren't the most powerful readings necessarily, but while they hear this as a bug, I find in it a feature. It allows an exploration of other aspects of the music long overlooked: Prokofiev's moody lyricism, his allegiance (more than superficial appreciation has it) to older, classical forms and textures. At the same time, the two explore the seemingly contradictory aspect of fantasia and wild splashes of color and dynamics (and these recordings pack wide dynamics) that are such a part of these pieces. This in fact is undoubtedly the most *colorful* approach to them I've ever heard--they make such famed sets as Ashkenazy/Previn and Beroff/Masur sound bland by comparison. However, the excitement here doesn't derive from the intense fireworks and hard-hitting percussiveness that's expected, but from broad, sweeping line, an epic quality worthy of Tolstoy (or at least Pasternak!) To give just one example, take the opening of the Second Concerto, my personal favorite. First the tempo is just a bit broader than one usually hears, and perfectly judged to my ears. Now, at two minutes in, listen to the ascending chords Toradze plays. They're caressed, they're slightly stretched over the beat (such subtle rubato is a real highlight of this set) and they are beautifully-voiced. Such attention to, shall we say, the "softer side" of these works might not seem like the recipe for success, but listen to just this passage and then compares it to all the other versions you may have and tell me who's the more effective. This is one of those moments that literally makes the hairs on my arms stand up every time I hear it. And then in the next section, the winds--flute and oboe--take up this delicate stretching of the tempo, giving their phrases a piquant sadness.

    Gergiev only allows his pianist to go so far in this dreamy poetic direction, however. There are harsh blasts from the brass--dig those trombones!--to bring us back to gritty Soviet reality. And that's why I think this set succeeds so well. The two men are eye-to-eye even when they're different in temperament, and the tug o' war between them makes for fascinating music making. This sort of "combative" approach doesn't work so well in some piano concertos, where harmony and collaboration are called for. But in works like these, the Brahms 2nd, the Mozart C minor, the Bartok and Barber works, the battle is part of the expressiveness. I'd love to hear these two go at some of these other works I just mentioned.

    I think the biggest problem the reviewer of the Prokofiev Page has is the fact that the Third Concerto is the weakest in the set, and here there is some considerable pulling of the melodies, and since he seems to regard this as the composer's cornerstone concerto, he is disappointed. I agree this is a somewhat odd reading of the concerto, but my sympathies are with those who consider the Second Concerto his ultimate masterwork. While this is a serviceable Third, I would put the composer's own performance into my CD player if I am looking for my favorite interpretation of the work. (Too bad he didn't record all of them!)

    The sound on this issue is wonderful--transparent and packing quite a punch. Throughout I heard inner voices I'd never noticed before--a tender line from violas here, a crisply-articulated counterpoint from the winds there. I really came away appreciating the complexity of Prokofiev's orchestration and the tremendous attention to detail, after listening to these performances over *good* speakers. Another reviewer talked about annoying humming and other distracting noises throughout. I haven't heard these, even on top-of-the-line Grado headphones.

    There are some moments here that lack a bit of tension. One of my favorite spots, the big explosion of perpetual rhythm in the 1st concerto just before we go into the lyrical section, is clumsy and flat. But this is more than made up for by the tremendous cadenza in the 2nd's first movement, the most nuanced and richly-colored 4th concerto I've ever heard, and a deliciously quirky 5th, a work that's very hard to bring off. This set should sit on everyone's shelf if they love these works, or are the least bit curious about either Toradze or Gergiev, or what to hear familiar classical music with a fresh twist and new life. Highly recommended for the daring....more info
  • Prokofiev: The Five Piano Concertos - Toradze & Gergiev
    This two CD set is one of the most wonderful recordings I've heard. Toradze has brillant technique and the orchestra is flawless. The compositions themselves are Prokofiev at his best. It is very emotional music, dynamic music. A must have! ...more info
  • commento al Concerto n¡ã 3
    Non ho ascoltato l'esecuzione dei 5 concerti contenuti in questo cofanetto, ma ho avuto la fortuna di poter ascoltare in TV l'esecuzione dal vivo del Concerto n¡ã3 dal Teatro alla Scala di Milano; l'orchestra era dunque quella della Scala, non quella del Kirov. Il mio commento si riferisce infatti a questa esecuzione, che tuttavia ¨¨ stata talmente pregevole da farmi supporre che il cofanetto con l'integrale dei 5 Concerti non potr¨¤ che essere strepitoso! Mi aveva stupito fra le altre cose l'incredibile affiatamento tra Gergiev e Toradze, che lasciava ipotizzare un lavoro compiuto insieme in modo puntiglioso (cosa che non reputavo fosse possibile con solo le 2 o 3 prove precedenti il concerto), e adesso che visitando il sito, scopro l'esistenza di questa loro collaborazione discografica, tutto mi ¨¨ chiaro! La qualit¨¤ del suono di Toradze riguardo all'interpretazione di questo concerto ¨¨ perfetta! Il suono ¨¨ nettissimo, affilato, tagliente; il motorismo ritmico prokofieviano ¨¨ stagliato con una precisione e con una incisivit¨¤ impressionanti; i tempi calibratissimi, e mai eccessivamente spinti (come invece non di rado accade); credo che l'esecuzione raggiunga il massimo splendore nel primo e nel secondo tempo; nel secondo in particolare il contrasto sonoro e timbrico fra le variazioni in andamento mosso e la Variazione 4a, ¨¨ didascalico: qui il suono del pianista e dell'orchestra raggiungono livelli incredibili di rarefazione, e le armonie sospese di Prokofiev diventano allucinazioni visive......more info


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