I purchased this CD for its pedigree interpretation of number 2. This is a beautifully recorded CD and gives such commanding control to this concerto.It is such a difficult work to really bring off convincingly. In particular it has a formidable range of quickly changing moods with the piano being starkly exposed at such times. A wonderful CD!
This a formidable partnership to take seriously: the driving Neeme Jarvi pushing the sophisticated Rolls Royce of the Concertgebouw to its top speed and most extrovert, like I said a racing driver in a sedan, then there's Gutierriez more than equal to Prokofiev at the piano. Arms swinging wildly, demonic motorised playing, demonic, the enfant terrible of the keyboard - by all accounts... The poetic, lyrical side of Prokofiev exists sure, but in the classical Prokofiev of his superb series of sonatas 4 - 9 and his expert use of the cadence (go to Gyorgy Sandor for that, and no other pianist, and listen to all of them, not just one or two!) In the concertos you want bravura, display pianism, fire and ice, blood and guts.
These two discs of the complete concertos deliver that. Unmissable. Fantastic sound quality cannot be bettered. The "alternative" take on No 3 if you want a more recessed lyrical approach can be found with Pletnev and Rostropovitch on DG. Funnily this is a "4D" recording, but the sound quality of this record is far from state of the art, fairly blurred and muddy. But the whole approach is muddled as you would find out if you compared it with this Chandos disc. I wouldn't waste your time or money on it, as the Rach 3 it is coupled with is nothing to write home about either.
Middle of the road recordings, mainly of yesteryear comprise Cliburn/Reiner on RCA (dullish vintage sound in any format) Browning (in his salad days) with Leinsdorf again on RCA, clearer more immediate sound and some scale and power approaching the Gutierrez disc. The LP was truely remarkable. Possibly better and more interesting accounts are by Friedrich Wuhrer and Alexander Uaninski in terms of keyboard prowess, if they were to be had on silver disc.
One small, or IS it SMALL, criticism of the Chandos record of the No 3, the first movement entrance of the piano is highlighted by the flute in a kind of underlining or accent of the upward sweep of the piano, which is quite rightly spot miked on other records. Such a shame it is so weak on this disc. (The flute can ride the orchestra like this in a live performance so it is a real drop out in the recording) The one spoiler on the whole record which is a shame, as it robs the beginning of a degree of excitement. This is an engineering problem ultimately to be laid at the door of Chandos. I can imagine the conductor's reaction when he heard the playback.
Ah well, perfection only lies in heaven...what was that flautist's name? And Maestro Jarvi, why didn't you come come down like a ton of bricks, of which you are capable?
However, it is, this and the second volume, the best account of the concertos on record.
This disc, very well recorded in 1990, makes a very powerful claim upon collectors. Gutierrez, previously unknown to me, delivers performances of great power and weight of both concertos which Jarvi and the fine Dutch orchestra fully support.
Power is an important issue to consider as regards this pair of performances and as regards the second concerto in particular. Prokofiev went out of his way to write an extremely taxing piano part in this concerto which includes an extended cadenza of renowned difficulty. Gutierrez responds to these challenges with supreme virtuosity which goes far beyond the bounds of just playing the notes well. The cadenza in particular is delivered with ferocious attack which makes mincemeat of the problems and also of the competition. The orchestral entry after such a demonstration of unassailable power is suitably trenchant. The rest of the concerto is played at the same level by all parties.
The third concerto is quite a different type of work with a great deal of light and shade and some humour. All of this is clearly shown in the performance by Argerich for example. There are many others who take the same line, not least that by Yuja Wang on a recent Bluray. However, Gutierrez takes an altogether tougher line with less light and shade and not a great deal of humour. This is a serious performance, once more of power and considerable virtuosity. It may not be a performance to love or to warm to but it should certainly impress, heard on its own terms.
I would suggest that this disc deserves to be considered very much in the front rank for those interested in purchasing the second concerto. By doing so they will get a powerfully different reading of the third. For those interested in the third primarily, I would suggest that other recordings may offer more satisfaction by exploring areas that Gutierrez does not attempt. As a complete purchase this still deserves to be considered very highly, particularly for collectors interested in alternative comparative readings.
I have to say that the first movement of the Prokofiev 2nd piano concerto played here is the most exciting I've ever heard. The cadenza is absolutely astounding. If you buy this you will probably listen to just this movement over and over again. It is fantastic.