Prokofiev, Piano Concertos 2/3, E. Kissin, Philharmonia Orchestra, V. Ashkenazy
(released on January 1, 2009)
EMI 50999 2 64536 2 0
Prokofiev, Piano Concertos
No. 1 (op. 10) | No. 2 (op. 16)
No. 3 (op. 26) | No. 5 (op. 55)
The most striking examples of this come in the second concerto, especially in the cadenza of the first movement, whose brutal challenges Kissin tames with his accustomed technical assurance (more deliberately powerful than impetuously so, as in Yuja Wang's recent reading). The cadenza grows and grows in volume until the orchestra roars back into the movement, one of the most exciting cadenza conclusions in the piano concerto literature. The microphone placement also captures the suave side of Kissin's technique, too, as in the glissandi that swoop downward and upward in the third movement (more refined in quality than, for example, Yefim Bronfman's recording). The sound engineering puts the Philharmonia Orchestra, playing quite well, slightly into the background, but the greater dynamic contrasts of the third concerto require the orchestra to come more to the foreground. Vladimir Ashkenazy, familiar with both sides of the equation in the Prokofiev concertos, keeps things admirably together and helps the orchestra follow Kissin's lead. There are a few moments of misalignment, quickly righted by Ashkenazy, that would be edited in a studio recording but that capture some of the excitement of hearing a work like this performed so well live.
Although he will not be playing one of the Prokofiev concertos, one would hate to miss the next opportunity to hear Evgeny Kissin in Washington, at next weekend's season opening concert with the National Symphony Orchestra (September 26, 7 pm), playing the second piano concerto by Chopin. Just a few seats remain at the time of this writing.