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Prokofiev: The Five Piano Concertos / El Bacha, Ono


Release Date: 02/08/2005 
Label:  Fuga Libera   Catalog #: 505  
Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Abdel Rahman El Bacha
Conductor:  Kazushi Ono
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Symphony Orchestra of La Monnaie
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 1 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

If you collect Prokofiev piano concerto sets (and I do), you will want to add this one to your collection. Now I know that there will be favorite individual performances (Argerich in No. 3, Richter in No. 5, etc.), but these interpretations, captured live, really do maintain a consistent level of excellence that justifies their release. Abdel Rahman El Bacha is one of those fine, journeyman artists who perhaps hasn't acquired the international reputation that he deserves, but his unfailingly musical and technically adroit playing of this challenging music can only win him many new friends. He's partnered by a terrifically perceptive conductor in Kazushi Ono, whose emphasis on clean rhythm and textural clarity will have you listening to this Read more (mostly) familiar music with new ears.

Let me suggest a few examples: the variations in the central movement of the Third Concerto seldom have been so well characterized. Just listen to the interplay between soloist and orchestra in Variation 2 (the first quick one), where El Bacha's nimble touch makes actual phrases where many more famous pianists merely find uniform thickets of notes. His innate musicality and well-judged weighting of chords makes as much musical sense of the enormous first-movement cadenza in the Second Concerto as anyone ever has. He doesn't bring the sort of physical impact (or crudeness) to the music that you find with Toradze/Gergiev (Philips), but his technique is fully up to the blistering toccata second movement, and his phrasing of Prokofiev's lyrical music is full of sympathetic insights.

Nor, I hasten to add, does El Bacha's lightness of touch preclude excitement. His First Concerto, the outer sections particularly, has plenty of the necessary brilliance, and he matches Richter in proving that the Fifth Concerto deserves more attention in concert than it usually receives. The intelligent collaboration with Ono makes this account of the left-hand-only Fourth Concerto one of the most satisfying yet recorded. The fact that all of this was accomplished live, in concert, only increases my admiration for the total achievement, as does the excellently balanced, totally natural sound. In short, this production does the players proud, and it certainly outclasses quite a few more famous efforts that I can think of (Ashkenazy/Previn on Decca, for example).

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday
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Works on This Recording

1. Concerto for Piano no 1 in D flat major, Op. 10 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Abdel Rahman El Bacha (Piano)
Conductor:  Kazushi Ono
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Symphony Orchestra of La Monnaie
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911-1912; Russia 
2. Concerto for Violin no 2 in G minor, Op. 63 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Abdel Rahman El Bacha (Piano)
Conductor:  Kazushi Ono
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Symphony Orchestra of La Monnaie
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; Paris, France 
3. Concerto for Piano no 3 in C major, Op. 26 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Abdel Rahman El Bacha (Piano)
Conductor:  Kazushi Ono
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Symphony Orchestra of La Monnaie
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1917-1921; USA 
4. Concerto for Piano left hand no 4 in B flat major, Op. 53 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Abdel Rahman El Bacha (Piano)
Conductor:  Kazushi Ono
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Symphony Orchestra of La Monnaie
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931; Paris, France 
5. Concerto for Piano no 5 in G major, Op. 55 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Abdel Rahman El Bacha (Piano)
Conductor:  Kazushi Ono
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Symphony Orchestra of La Monnaie
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931-1932; Paris, France 

Sound Samples

Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16: I. Andantino - Allegretto
Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16: II. Scherzo: Vivace
Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16: III. Intermezzo: Allegro moderato
Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16: IV. Finale: Allegro tempestoso
Piano Concerto No. 5 in G major, Op. 55: I. Allegro con brio
Piano Concerto No. 5 in G major, Op. 55: II. Moderato ben accentuato
Piano Concerto No. 5 in G major, Op. 55: III. Toccata: Allegro con fuoco
Piano Concerto No. 5 in G major, Op. 55: IV. Larghetto
Piano Concerto No. 5 in G major, Op. 55: V. Vivo
Piano Concerto No. 1 in D flat major, Op. 10: I. Allegro brioso
Piano Concerto No. 1 in D flat major, Op. 10: II. Andante assai
Piano Concerto No. 1 in D flat major, Op. 10: III. Allegro scherzando
Piano Concerto No. 4 in B flat major, Op. 53: I. Vivace
Piano Concerto No. 4 in B flat major, Op. 53: II. Andante
Piano Concerto No. 4 in B flat major, Op. 53: III. Moderato
Piano Concerto No. 4 in B flat major, Op. 53: IV. Vivace
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26: I. Andante - Allegro
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26: II. Tema con variazioni
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26: III. Allegro ma non troppo

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