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Prokofiev: Piano Concertos 2 & 3 / Kempf, Litton

Prokofiev / Bergen Philharmonic Orch / Litton
Release Date: 02/02/2010 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1820  
Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Freddy Kempf
Conductor:  Andrew Litton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  
SuperAudio CD:  $19.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

These are fabulous performances, the coupling is more than generous (a full 80 minutes of music), and the concertos are so different from Toradze/Gergiev that you will surely want to hear both. Broadly speaking, Toradze pursues a straightforward, reduce-the-piano-to-kindling, virtuoso approach. Freddy Kempf, at slightly slower tempos, is more thoughtful but ultimately no less exciting. For example, he treats the maniacal cadenza in the Second concerto's first movement as a genuine development section, using his control of texture and dynamics to plot the evolution of the movement's opening theme.
Read more Similarly, the central variations in the Third concerto's second movement have a remarkable amount of character and contrast.

You might think that this approach compromises the music's dazzling pianistic flair, but that's not the case. The Second concerto's whirlwind toccata of a second movement seldom has been played with such fleet-fingered, sparkling lightness. Kempf is helped in this respect by Andrew Litton, almost always at his best in Russian music. He finds far more color and character in Prokofiev's orchestration than does Gergiev, and the Bergen Philharmonic plays with impressive panache. One example: the coda of the Third concerto's finale usually sounds like a brittle pileup of treble sonority, but you'll be amazed at the amount of interesting detail that Litton touches in without ever compromising the music's forward thrust.

The Second sonata, placed between the two concertos, offers a considerable bonus. Dating from the same period as Piano Concerto No. 2, it's a logical and very welcome coupling. Having it along, rather than in tandem with other sonatas, allows us to savor its rich melodic invention and formal mastery, while at the same time providing a welcome contrast if you decide to play the entire disc at a sitting (and once you start, you won't want to stop). Kempf's performance is every bit as persuasive as his reading of the two concertos. With state-of-the-art sonics in all formats, this disc is an essential addition to any serious Prokofiev collection.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 2 in G minor, Op. 16 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Freddy Kempf (Piano)
Conductor:  Andrew Litton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913/1923; USSR 
Concerto for Piano no 3 in C major, Op. 26 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Freddy Kempf (Piano)
Conductor:  Andrew Litton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1917-1921; USA 
Sonata for Piano no 2 in D minor, Op. 14 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Freddy Kempf (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912; Russia 

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