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Friday, March 25, 2016
Serge Prokofiev, Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 5, Vadym Kholodenko, Ft. Worth Symphony
2013 Cliburn Gold Medalist Vadym Kholodenko is the pianist, the Ft. Worth Symphony the orchestra under Miguel Harth-Bedoya. This a SACD compatible disk that brings us the Prokofiev Second as well as the Fifth (Harmonia Mundi HMU 807631).
The "Piano Concerto No. 5" is not as well known but has its own charm. Kholodenko and company do an excellent job with it and so it is here a worthy coupling with the Second.
But I am especially thrilled with their performance with that Second. It has beautiful sound. It rivals and even exceeds my old Artia LP for its idiosyncratic, gloriously melodic darkness. Now maybe I am one of those who is glad to be unhappy, but I think not. Because Prokofiev transcends the turmoil and the darkness with some of the most beautiful music I know. You come away from the work feeling that Serge has dispelled the storm clouds, that with music such as this we can carry on and be wonderfully human, somehow.
Kholodenko understands all that, I think, and manages to convey through the formidably compelling solo part that the orchestral girth and power can be coalesced and contained by the single solo voice. I wax on here but if you hear this recording a few times I think you might understand. Prokofiev especially in the early period was a master of the motor impulse rhythms that for him connoted perhaps upheaval, progress, change, industry, a modern world he occupied with a certain insecurity natural to the times. The Second captures that wonderfully. But it also has in wonderful form his melodic genius, something Prokofiev put forward beautifully throughout his career, but never more memorably than with this concerto. The melodic arc of solo part and the impassioned thrumming of the orchestral backdrop is unforgettable, to me at least.
The version contained in the new disk I would recommend as essential, and for the 5th too this disk is fabulous. Get this one!