Kholodenko’s Better Prokofiev Second Half

Review by: David Hurwitz


Artistic Quality: 8

Sound Quality: 8

This second installment in the Kholodenko/Harth-Bedoya/Fort Worth Prokofiev Piano Concerto cycle is notably better than the first. There are still some mannerisms that will strike many listeners as excessive, such as the uber-espressivo lingering over bits of the Third Concerto’s central variation theme, and the balances favor the piano to an exaggerated degree, but these problems aren’t as serious as in the previous installment. In particular, the First Concerto is dazzling, the buckets of scampering passagework shot through with steely brilliance, but also an easy lightness and a truly youthful sense of fun.

As noted, the Third Concerto has a few questionable moments, but on the whole this is a smartly paced, finely articulated interpretation, with an especially successful account of the finale. Although the forward balance certainly helps, give Kholodenko credit for shaping the virtuosic coda, wave after wave, as meaningfully as it’s ever been done. Harth-Bedoya deserves credit here too for finding a tempo that’s just right–not too fast but not at all inhibited–to permit every detail of the solo to register with clarity and naturalness. You’ll hear things that you’ve never heard before, and yet they sound  “right.”

I have to confess that I find the Fourth Concerto to be as empty a piece as any major composer ever wrote. These forces play it very well, but the result leaves me cold, and it’s not their fault. Get this for the First and Third. They are performances to savor.

Buy Now from Arkiv Music

Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Concertos Nos. 1 & 3: Argerich (Warner and DG)

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