Prokofiev, Piano Concerto No. 3 (and Grieg Concerto), N. Lugansky, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, K. Nagano (Naïve, 2013)
Lugansky hit all the right marks in this complicated concerto: helter-skelter runs at super-fast tempos, a tongue-in-cheek take on the first movement's goofy second theme (accompanied by castanets), impeccable hand crossings, a steely accuracy in the large-handed berserk chordal sections, but also a dreamy take on the piano's musings at the recapitulation, where the tender opening clarinet solo returns. In general there were fine contributions from the NSO musicians, a great piccolo duet with the soloist in one of the odder passages of the first movement, for example, although with a couple clams in the horn calls of the second movement. Most of the coordination problems must be laid at the feet of Meister, who showed a slightly inexperienced hand leading this kind of piece. At fast tempos the urgency he wanted to show obscured the clarity of his beat at times, and that uncertainty was heard in the lack of ensemble unity of the orchestra, not always aligned with itself or with the soloist. This was especially a shame in the fleeter passages of the second movement, where Lugansky was light as a feather but not always matched by the orchestra, and in the tense slow section toward the end, where Lugansky's playing was, a notable exception, on the prosaic side, missing some of the mystery of the passage. In the third movement, though, everything came together, with pleasingly acerbic edges, raucous woodwinds, and some truly astounding finger-work from Lugansky. The ovation was loud enough for an encore, but Lugansky declined to offer one.
Robert Battey, A winning program in Cornelius Meister’s debut with National Symphony Orchestra
Terry Ponick, NSO: Meister, Lugansky = one hot symphony evening at the KenCen (Communities Digital News, April 18)
Joseph Thirouin, Un Lugansky flamboyant dans le troisieme de Prokofiev (ResMusica.com, April 16)
This concert will be repeated this evening (April 19, 8 pm) in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.