Prokofiev & Ravel: Piano concertos/Vinnitskaya

Review by: David Hurwitz

Artistic Quality: 6

Sound Quality: 9

Anna Vinnitskaya has a formidable technique: the crazy cadenza in the first movement of the Prokofiev holds no terrors for her, and she shapes it very musically. The second-movement toccata isn’t quite as fast as some, but it’s articulated with real flair and sounds more substantial than usual. The remaining two movements have less in the way of thrills, but they are also very well played. The orchestra under Gilbert Varga sounds terrific, and is also very sensitively balanced against the piano. That’s the good news.

It’s baffling that the Ravel, which on the best of days makes a strange disc-mate for Prokofiev, seems to be a “go to” piece for young pianists looking for something a little bit out of the way to stick on a concerto disc. It’s one of the repertoire’s most subtle and challenging works in terms of the musicality that it demands from the soloist, and Vinnitskaya really isn’t up to the challenge. In the first movement her rubato lacks fluidity, and anything that isn’t fast falls flat. The Adagio has a beautifully sustained left-hand accompaniment supporting an awkwardly phrased principal melody. The finale, though, is as well articulated as the second movement of the Prokofiev, demonstrating clearly both Vinnitskaya’s talent as well as her very obvious limitations. In today’s market, this is a pointless release, but Vinnitskaya remains an artist to watch. Let’s hope she grows into her technical facility.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Ravel: Francois/Cluytens (EMI), Prokofiev: Toradze/Gergiev (Philips)

SERGE PROKOFIEV - Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor
MAURICE RAVEL - Piano Concerto in G major

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