PROKOFIEV: Romeo and Juliet Ballet (excerpts). Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16.
Nicole Henriot-Schweitzer, pianist; Boston Symphony Orch/Charles Munch, cond.
IDLEWILD IDLR 127 (M) TT: 75:49

PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-flat major, Op. 10. Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16. Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26. Piano Concerto No. 4 in B-flat major, Op. 53. Piano Concerto No. 5 in G major, Op. 55.
John Browning, pianist; Boston Symphony Orch/Erich Leinsdorf, cond.
IDLEWILD IDLR 123 (2 CDs) (M) TT: 76:04 & 44:45

TCHAIKOVSKY: Concert Fantasia in G major, Op. 56. PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16.
Igor Ardasev, pianist; Prague Symphony Orch/Leos Svárovsky, cond.
SUPRAPHON SU 3757-2-031 (B) (DDD) TT: 60:58

PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 16. Piano Concerto No. 3 in C, Op. 26.
Victoria Postnikova, pianist; USSR Ministry of Culture Orch/Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, cond.

Here's a fascinating batch of Prokokfiev recordings, many performances new to the CD catalog. Idlewild's interest in Boston Symphony Prokofiev recordings continues with these major releases. One might not think of Charles Munch when discussing Prokofiev, but he leads a dynamic performance of 12 excerpts from Romeo and Juliet, an equally powerful account of the Piano Concerto No. 2 with Henriot-Schweitzer in top form. An important feature of the concerto is Munch's emphasis on percussive effects, all superbly captured by RCA's engineers

.John Browning's recordings were made in December 1965 (1 &2), November 1967 (3 & 4) and April 1969 (5). He already had premiered Barber's Piano Concerto immediately after it was written in 1962, recording it shortly thereafter with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra—making a second recording in 1990 in St. Louis with Leonard Slatkin conducting. A superb technician, he gives vibrant performances of Prokofiev's concertos, with strong support from the Boston Symphony under Erich Leinsdorf's knowing baton. These transfers, superbly accomplished by Ramon Khalona and John Wilson, are taken from stereo LPs (1, 2, 5) and reel-to-reel tape (3, 4). For purchase information on these Idlewild reissues write to:

Winner of a number of prestigious competitions, Igor Ardasev (b. 1967) studied with Paul Badura-Skoda and Rudolf Serkin. I've not heard his Supraphon recordings of music of Mussorgsky, Dvorak, Janacek and Liszt, or his recordings with his wife, Renata, of Dvorak's Slavonic Dances and Smetana's Ma Vlast arranged for two pianos. Based on this Tchaikovsky/Prokofiev CD, he obviously is a virtuoso of the first rank. The coupling of Prokofiev's Concerto No. 2 with Tchaikovsky's Concert Fantasy, Op. 56 is a fine idea—two relatively neglected works by two major composers. These surely are well performed by Ardasev but without that extra bit of swagger that the best of competing versions offer. Recorded sound is excellent and the budget price might attract some collectors.

Victoria Postnikova's recordings of concertos two and three were made in 1983 with her husband, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, conducting the USSR Ministry of Culture Orchestra. While Postnikova obviously is an accomplished musician I can't help but feel that her career would have been quite limited were it not for the advocacy of Rozhdestvensky. Her recordings for Decca of Tchaikovsky's three piano concertos (all with her husband conducting) are rather dull, as are these of Prokofiev. She opts for slow tempi, luxuriating in the occasional lush episodes of this music—particularly the rhapsodic center section of the third concerto's finale—but the coruscating brilliance Prokofiev's music demands isn't to be heard. Sound on these recordings is superb, and at mid-price it's worth owning, and it is intriguing to hear the Russian brass/woodwinds—listen at 1:16 into the finale of Concerto No. 2! This is one of a new series of issues of older Meloydia recordings.

R.E.B. (November 2003)