My listening to music is often driven by my needs: Music for sleep; Music for relaxation; Music for excitement; Music to match my mood at the moment…
My sense is that this recording is definitely not for inducing sleep! It surely IS for hearing a composer’s inventive use of folk music to create a feeling of power, energy, great rhythm, and sheer thunder and lightning! All of these are available in Prokofiev’s piano concerti numbers 2 and 3!
Evgeny Kissin is perfectly at ease in the Prokofiev second and third concerti, effortlessly playing passages that other pianists play with a lot weaker results. Many of Prokofiev’s keyboard works use extensive rhythms and the percussive side of the piano’s capabilities.
The Second concerto takes this approach to a farther extreme than any other of his five concertos, which accounts for its rather rare performance. Kissin’s playing is somewhat less thunderous than most, and in this Russian music he’s clearly a master.
The Third concerto, on the other hand, is Prokofiev’s most popular, and Kissin shows us music that is powerful, elegant, exciting, and witty. What I hear in this CD is a sense of overwhelming technical command. The theme and variations that are the heart of the concerto exhibit a breathtaking range from delicate pianissimo’s to wonderful melody, and the most demanding passagework whisks by without any hiccups.
One reason that Kissin so dominates this performance is that conductor Ashkenazy takes a back seat with excellent accompaniment that is gorgeous throughout. Bottom line? Fantastic playing by an amazing artist!
Here is a 6-minute extract of a video of Kissin rehearsing the Prokofiev Piano concertos 2 & 3: