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Discussion: Rachmaninov, Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3 - Van Cliburn

Posts: 15
Page: 1 2 next

Post by jdaniel September 22, 2010 (1 of 15)
Enjoyed Jon's review, but he's much too hard on the Cliburn Prokofiev. It's been my favorite Prokofiev 3rd for a long time. No, it's not relentless, like Argerich or Janis' on Mercury, (re; the latter, when will we be past a point at which it is OK to admit that this TAS-lister is a run of the mill, crusty crass recording with a performance that skimps over most of Prokofiev's more poetic moments?) Oh well.

Anyway, Cliburn and Hendl bring out the Romeo and Julliet and/or Cinderella aspects of the score. Prokofiev wasn't all steel. Sample the last third of the 1st mov't, and how nice it is to hear *all* the notes in the coruscating coda.

Post by pgmdir September 22, 2010 (2 of 15)
Thanks Jon.... I also appreciate your review. The Graffman-Szell, a DSD remaster, but unfortunately not on SACD has be come my new favorite for the Prokofiev. Another example of what might have been had Sony followed through. I had wondered about the VC--- But I didn't think he had what it takes to make Prokofiev shine. Guess I was right in my prejudice.

Post by seth September 22, 2010 (3 of 15)
jdaniel said:

No, it's not relentless, like Argerich or Janis' on Mercury,

That's exactly why I enjoy the Graffman/Szell recording so much. Graffman doesn't treat it as a vehicle to show off his virtuosity.

Post by Polly Nomial September 23, 2010 (4 of 15)
jdaniel said:

It's been my favorite Prokofiev 3rd for a long time.

If we're allowed to talk RBCD for a minute, might I plug Kissin's account with BPO & Abbado?

(DG - I know, I know but the playing is worth it!)

Post by Jonalogic September 23, 2010 (5 of 15)
pgmdir said:

Thanks Jon.... I also appreciate your review. The Graffman-Szell, a DSD remaster, but unfortunately not on SACD has be come my new favorite for the Prokofiev. Another example of what might have been had Sony followed through. I had wondered about the VC--- But I didn't think he had what it takes to make Prokofiev shine. Guess I was right in my prejudice.

Bill, Seth and all on this thread

Hi, and thanks.

I must confess, my 'mind's eye' reading of this concerto does tend towards the lean, sarcastic, brittle and virtuosic. So much of Prokofiev's music at the time fits this profile, after all. He hadn't yet returned to Russia and been forced to tone down his act for the Commissars.

The Janis performance fits that bill better for me, at least in terms of performance. However, like many Mercs on SACD, I have to say I am not that enamoured of the sound. This rather surprised me, as the vinyls and RBCDs come across better in many ways. SACD tends to allow the intrinsic quality of many Living Stereos to shine on through but - conversely - suggests that many of the dogma (TAS-list et al) Mercs have feet of clay. The vivid immediacy just seems to have wandered off, rather. Maybe the transfers just weren't as good as those done by Soundmirror for the LSCs? I don't know.

There is always more than one way of performing any piece*. If you're looking for a more lyrical, 'Romeo and Juliet' feel, I rather like the Kempf on BIS. That is also an exceptionally fine-sounding modern recording (Hi, Bissie, I owe you that one after slagging off the Walton...). Plus it comes paired with a similarly fine reading of the granitic second concerto (from Prokofiev's Scythian/Third Symphony period.) Bissie - any chance of releasing the other concertos with these forces?

I love many of the early Szells, and will seek out this one. What a shame CBS/Sony stopped this series. But one can hope.

John- I haven't heard the Kissin/Abbado/BPO on RBCD, so can't really comment. But with those forces, I guess it really has to be good!

Broadening out slightly, I have to say I find the Prokofiev repertoire thin - at best - on SACD. Where are the 3rd and 6th symphonies, not to mention a decent 5th? Plus the Scythian Suite, Love of three Oranges. And so on and on.

Almost as shameful as the lack of Nielsen, but please don't start me on that...

Cheers

Jon

* As Deng Xiaoping once pungently pointed out - 'it doesn't matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice...'

Post by Peter September 23, 2010 (6 of 15)
Polly Nomial said:

If we're allowed to talk RBCD for a minute, might I plug Kissin's account with BPO & Abbado?

The EMI remake is perhaps even finer. The composer's own is one of the more vehement readings.

Post by jdaniel September 23, 2010 (7 of 15)
Jonalogic said:

Bill, Seth and all on this thread

Hi, and thanks.

I must confess, my 'mind's eye' reading of this concerto does tend towards the lean, sarcastic, brittle and virtuosic. So much of Prokofiev's music at the time fits this profile, after all. He hadn't yet returned to Russia and been forced to tone down his act for the Commissars.

The 2nd mov't of the 2nd Symphony and the 1st VC are as dreamy as it gets and IIRC, relatively early works?

Post by Jonalogic September 24, 2010 (8 of 15)
jdaniel said:

The 2nd mov't of the 2nd Symphony and the 1st VC are as dreamy as it gets and IIRC, relatively early works?

jdaniel Hi

True, but one can't be sarcastic all the time. Musical logic demands contrasts.

Early Shostakovich is the same - just compare, for instance, the slow and final movements of the piano concerto no 1 (piano, trumpet and strings).

Cheers

Jon

Post by jdaniel September 24, 2010 (9 of 15)
Jonalogic said:

jdaniel Hi

True, but one can't be sarcastic all the time. Musical logic demands contrasts.

Early Shostakovich is the same - just compare, for instance, the slow and final movements of the piano concerto no 1 (piano, trumpet and strings).

Cheers

Jon

Yes, the direct poetry of Shostakovich's PC 1 second mov't was a shocker and you've made me recall the yearning 3rd mov't from his 1st Symphony. Very ingratiating music.

I tend to to like some music taken a little more indulgently, leisurely, I'm more "local color" than overall architecture, (never could warm to Walter's Mahler 9th Finale--so fast!).

But I have my limits: Haitink's ultra-slow Walton 1st bombs IMHO, as well as Bernstein's Enigma and Sinopoli's Elgar 2nd, first mov't. Not a big fan of "expedient" Mahler 2nd Choral finales either.

Post by Jonalogic September 24, 2010 (10 of 15)
jdaniel said:

Yes, the direct poetry of Shostakovich's PC 1 second mov't was a shocker and you've made me recall the yearning 3rd mov't from his 1st Symphony. Very ingratiating music.

I tend to to like some music taken a little more indulgently, leisurely, I'm more "local color" than overall architecture, (never could warm to Walter's Mahler 9th Finale--so fast!).

But I have my limits: Haitink's ultra-slow Walton 1st bombs IMHO, as well as Bernstein's Enigma and Sinopoli's Elgar 2nd, first mov't. Not a big fan of "expedient" Mahler 2nd Choral finales either.

jdaniel Hi

We are on the same page on this. Shostakovich and all great composers always balance mood and emotion - for the same reason that Shakesperean tragedies always have their moments of humour.

On of the supreme moments of musical juxtaposition occurs - for me - in Shostakovich's 13th (choral) symphony; in the second movement 'humour' he jokingly refers explicitly to the doom-laden main theme from the 'Babi-Yar' first movement.

That is truly a scary moment of genius and insight.

Ultra slow tempos require great focus, concentraion and musical sensibility from all. They can certainly be over-used. The Bernstein is a great example, I had forgetten that one!

But a great ultra-slow Mahler 9 4th movement can bring tears. Even the old bugger Karajan realised that.

All things in their place...

Cheers

Jon

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