8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
An outstanding set from the 1970's and still an excellent choice,
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This review is from: Prokofiev: Piano Concertos Nos. 1-5 (Audio CD)
The concertos and overture were recorded in 1974 with the solo pieces recorded in 1983. All the pieces were digitally remastered to good effect in 1988 for this release. As a result the set competes favourably purely on sonic terms with both Ashkenazy, Krainev and Paik three of the leading alternatives. Musically Beroff is also quite on a par with the best alternatives and the set is priced very competitively.
As readings, Beroff arguably takes the most lyrical view of these works, some of which can be very spiky. He is partnered in this respect by Masur who also favours a lyrical approach and the recording ensures that orchestral detail makes its effect. Although Beroff favours a lyrical approach generally, it must be stressed that this is not at the expense of rhythmical tautness. Much of the writing in these works requires a steady and unwavering rhythmical grip in order to stop the music sounding like aimless machine gun fire. Prokofiev always keeps his eye on the final destination of his music and this requires complete technical control including pulse, which is why he is such a good ballet composer.
As an example of the combination of all of these points I would suggest that the extremely demanding cadenza of the second concerto would be a good choice. in this Beroff keeps sufficient pulse to avoid moments of flagging when the demands increase. At the same time he keeps a steady enough pulse to enable him to maximise the frequently lost lyrical line. Only Bronfman is a serious challenger to Beroff in this most demanding of cadenzas.
Both Ashkenazy and Krainev prove to be worthy opponents or alternatives and both of them bring a degree of Russian temperament to bear. This is more dramatic and forceful with more bite and less lyricism. Paik brings a youthful scampering humour to his reading.
Ashkenazy's recording has been remastered and clarified and the recordings of Krainev and Paik are both fairly new. Overall there is little to choose between the recordings which all match the individual characteristics of the individual readings.
There are other sets that I have not heard and many individual concertos of which I have collected many. As they do not constitute whole sets I have not referred to them in the course of this resume.
The extras included here are all well played but are not substantial enough to affect final choices which must surely centre on the five concertos.
I would finally suggest that Beroff has claim to be the most lyrically appealing of the sets mentioned above and, as such, may may warrant first choice. It is certainly on a par with the best but those looking for a more Russian flavour may prefer either Krainev or Ashkenazy but those who value a more lightweight approach may find Paik to be the answer.