PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Flat, Op. 10 Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16. Piano Concerto No. 3 in C, Op. 26. Piano Concerto No. 4 in B flat, Op. 53. Piano Concerto No. 5 in G, Op. 55.
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, piano; BBC Philharmonic Orch/Gianandrea Noseda, cond.
CHANDOS 10802 (2 disks) TT: 74:45 & 46:52

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, Op. 15. MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 12 in A, K. 414.
Leon Fleisher, piano; Kölner Radio Orch/André Cluytens, cond. (Beethoven); Georg Ludwig Jochum, cond.

LISZT: Ellens Gesang III (Ave Maria). Ballade No. 2 in B minor. Fantasy on Aida. Rondeau fantastique sur un theme espagnol. Gute nacht. Des Mädchens Klage. Erlkönig. Der Müller und der Bach. Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12.
Valentina Lisitsa, piano.
DECCA B1008987 TT: 76:00

Chandos surely has done their bit to promote brilliant pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (b. 1962). He has won a number of prestigious competitions and was invited by Sir Georg Solti in 1995 to make his debut with the Orchestra of Paris. Since then he has appeared with numerous prominent conductors. Chandos already has issued acclaimed solo recordings of piano music of Debussy, Ravel, five CDs of Haydn sonatas, and he has begun a Beethoven sonata cycle as well. Now we have this superb set of Prokofiev concertos, dazzling performances that display his astounding technique and musical insight. All of Prokofiev's wit is emphasized, and these performances are enhanced by the BBC Philharmonic in top form under Gianandrea Noseda's strong direction. The rich Chandos audio is another plus. Many recordings of Prokofiev piano concertos have been reviewed on this site—check the CD index and the Surround Sound index. The latter includes a magnificent set with another amazing youngish pianist, Alexander Gavrylyuk with the Sydney Symphony conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy, who also has recorded all of the concertos as soloist (REVIEW). How fortunate collectors are to have so many fine recordings to choose from!

Leon Fleisher (b. 1928) continues to astound the musical world. After initial studies with Artur Schnbel, his career blossomed. he soon was giving numerous solo recitals and was a favorite of conductors George Szell and Pierre Monteux. His Cleveland recordings of concertos of Brahms, Beethoven, Schumann and Grieg are staples of the catalog. .Around 1960 he lost use of his right hand but continued his career as a conductor and distinguished teacher in Baltimore. Fleisher gave countless performances of works for left-hand piano and orchestra (and recorded many of them), giving the world premiere of Hindemith's Concerto for Left Hand in 2004. Fleisher recently regained use of his right hand and continues his remarkable career, always the total professional and musician, highly regarded by everyone. As a reminder of past glories, now we have these splendid studio performances recorded in Germany March 1957 (Mozart) and March 1960 (Beethoven). The Mozart concerto was one of the first works Fleisher played after returning to two-handed repertory; his recent Sony recording of the work has been mentioned on this site (REVIEW). And of course he misses none of the wit of the Beethoven, a showcase of controlled virtuosity. This is an important release for pianophiles.

Pianism of lesser stature is heard on the new Liszt recital by Valentina Lisitsa, who achieved incredible success (and following) via her YouTube performances. Her fascinating Royal Albert Hall concert on DVD has been mentioned on this site (REVIEW) as has her disappointing recording of Rachmaninoff concertos (REVIEW). Now we have this Liszt recital that focuses on the composer's arrangements of music of Schubert and Verdi; the featured works are Ballade No. 2 and Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12. Two of the Schubert-Lizt works (Das Mädchens Klage / Erikönig) were included in her video performance. That also included a brilliant performance of the solo version of Totentanz that showed the pianist at her very best. There are thousands of notes on this new recital disk, here played very well—Lisitsa has splendid technique—doubles's her legion of fans will welcome what is heard here; others probably will be somewhat disappointed. Recordings were made in Hanover's Beethovensall in March 2011 on a Bösendorfer piano. rich sound with a rather brittle upper register.

R.E.B. (April 2014)