Anna Vinnitskaya PROKOFIEV - RAVEL

Naturally when one thinks of the words piano concerto and Russian, Rachmaninov comes to mind, but this album proves that Prokofiev is equally adept at composing a masterwork for the piano, the Piano Concerto No. 2, which is made up of four movements. Though the recording quality is a bit too soft at the beginning when the piano enters, the tone is very crisp and bright and perhaps a little too polished-sounding. Prokofiev is less tonal here than in some of his other works, and this certainly makes the concerto a challenge to play. However, Vinnitskaya is more than up to the task, as her elegant, delicate touch moves through runs in the first movement with great precision and handles lively, playful passages in the third movement with great agility. Vinnitskaya's style might be likened to a ballet dancer: supple, strong, but never ungraceful. Sometimes the phrasing in the first movement sounds mostly horizontal; that is, we get the sense of the flow of the melody, with less emphasis of the vertical chords. However, it is clear that, though she has performed since childhood, she is young and there is still exciting promise to see her growth as an artist. Gilbert Varga sets a rapid tempo with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin in the fourth movement, but the pianist's blooming, majestic arpeggi never lag behind. Prokofiev himself held Maurice Ravel in great admiration, so it is indeed fitting that Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major is the second work on the album. From its shimmering beginning with the piano and orchestra in a dialogue together, to the ethereal orchestral passages of beautiful tone color that are unmistakably Ravellian, Vinnitskaya captures well the spirit of the composer. Overall, the concerto is less of a showcase of the pianist than it is a tightly knit work between the piano and the orchestra, and once again Varga leads the orchestra with great skill while respecting Vinnitskaya's artistry. (V.Vasan)

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