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Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is arguably the most musical set available, 28 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: Prokofiev: Piano Concertos 1 - 5 (Audio CD)
This set, recorded in 1991-2, is conducted by Kitaenko (also spelt Kitajenko)who was one of the reasons I had for buying this set. This may seem strange, but the Kitajenko interpretations of the Prokofiev symphonies are simply the most musical that I have heard and I felt that these concertos required a musical conductor if they are to avoid the mechanical playing often heard.

Imagine my delight therefore, when I found that Kitajenko was totally matched by a pianist that brought the same level of musicianship to these scores. Krainev clearly has all the technical brilliance that they require but he clearly puts the expression of the music ahead of the requirement for digital brilliance and power.

The recording balance is a help by not spotlighting the piano quite as much as usual and therefore allowing far more of the orchestral dialogue to come through naturally rather than through spotlight miking. At first I wondered, like some others seem to have done, if the recording lacked brilliance but it soon became apparent that the balance was very good and it was for me to adjust my ears. This was soon achieved without difficulty.

The fifth concerto is less aggressively spiky in this performance and the fourth is more lyrically communicative than is often the case. The third, of which I have numerous recordings, is by far the most naturally expressive and simply musical in its delivery. The second, which can so easily become a digital battleground is, like the third, a very musical performance. The extended cadenza in the first movement is the slowest in my collection, but its emphasis on melodic line and not the percussive possibilities, is a good example of how music is finally achieved from a forest of notes. The fast scherzo that follows is also played at a speed that allows for phrasing and shaping rather than just a scramble for the finishing line. The first concerto is similarly played for its musical values and is far more of a team effort with the orchestra than is often heard.

Other performances that I have used for comparison in my collection include, Ashkenazy who I find a bit below par in this set which is rather to heavyweight to sparkle as much as it should, Paik who certainly does deliver that sparkle, Argerich on number 3, Bronfmann on 2 and 4, Kissin on 1 and 3 and Gutierrez on 2 and 3. These are all impressive pianists and performances but it is Krainev and Kitaenko who consistently produce the most musically satisfying performances.

In conclusion I would suggest that this set by Krainev and Kitaenko deserves to be short-listed in any group of potential purchase considerations. The recording quality has proved to be very good too when played back on the four systems available to me. These are sufficiently high end to be intolerant of poor recordings and these have passed the test.
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Review Details

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Reviewer

I. Giles
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   

Location: Argyll, Scotland

Top Reviewer Ranking: 16