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Pno Ctos

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Feb. 12 2008)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal Music Canada
  • ASIN: B000WS4O7K
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #30,903 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. 1 Andantino
2. 2 Scherzo (Vivace)
3. 3 Intermezzo (Allegro moderato)
4. 4 Finale (Allegro tempestoso)
5. 1 Allegramente
6. 2 Adagio assai
7. 3 Presto

Product Description

Yundi Li teams up with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Seiji Ozawa for his second orchestral recording. Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2 is the most brilliant and virtuosic of his concertos for both soloist and orchestra - and one of the least recorded. Yundi Li is joined by one of the world's greatest orchestras, the Berliner Philharmoniker, under Seiji Ozawa. The Ravel Piano Concerto, a perennial hit with its haunting and jazzy second movement, rounds out the programme.

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By Ye Him Loo on Sept. 29 2008
Format: Audio CD
I got this CD for two weeks and then found out there was a documentary of Yundi Li in the Vancouver International Film Festival. Watched it and totally gave me a new perspective on the music. Yundi Li was making the CD with Berlin Phil with Seiji Ozawa and I didn't know about this in advance. It was a pleasant surprise to see all the little details they went into before the concert. I didn't really like the Prokovief concerto much before but now I enjoy it so much! Thanks to Yundi Li and Maestro Ozawa and the Berlin Phil for giving such a wonderful performance! The Ravel concerto is also great too, like Li said in the documentary, he has played this piece well with such brillance like the tone colours come flying all around you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Claudius Luciano on May 7 2009
Format: Audio CD

Certainement mon concerto favori de Prokofiev. Difficile d'avoir une composition plus imagée que ça. Dissonances et harmonies se succèdent sans changer le thème plutôt "noir". Dans mon top 5 musical au complet.
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Format: Audio CD
It's just such a great performance by this young musician. It took me a little while to get used to Prokofiev but now I love it. Ravel is very enjoyable as well. I will look for more albums from Yundi Li for sure.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 32 reviews
29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Yundi Li, Prokofiev 2, Ravel g minor P Ctos: Fiery, Polished, Lyrical Dec 12 2007
By drdanfee - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This disc caught my eye, for one attractive reason, and provoked anticipatory reservations at the same time.

Having just added Yundi Li's prior concerto album to my shelves, I was happily surprised to find he had released another concerto recording, soon upon the heels of that first success. Catching sight of conductor Seiji Ozawa as leader, I paused a bit. I have never been a fan of his complete Prokofiev symphonies with the Berlin PO, and although I do like some of Ozawa's releases, I find him disappointing at times. He often seems content to skate on the beautiful surfaces of the music, resisting deeper involvements and deeper insights. His mastery sounds too slick to my ears in some past recordings, so I wasn't going to anticipate too much under him even with Yundi Li at the keyboard.

Suffice it to say that this release is worth having, but maybe not the undisputed top-notch Great Recording of the Century that the marketing departments might have been casting in their business mix.

For one thing, the Prokofiev competition is pretty strong. The second piano concerto has already been seriously well-served by Ashkenazy, Demidenko, Kun Woo Paik, Horacio Gutierrez, Toradze, Igor Ardasev, Viktor Krainev, Michel Beroff, and John Browning. On the conducting side, Ozawa has to compete with the likes of Neeme Jarvi, Previn, Masur, Antoni Wit, Lazarev, Dimitri Kitaenko, the superstar Gergiev, Erich Leinsdorf, and the brilliant but unknown Leos Svarosky.

Any of these alternative recordings will do just fine, probably. So it is high marks for Yundi Li to fit in so well with this challenging field of pre-existing musical excellence. He places the second Prokofiev, deftly, smack dab in the early twentieth century's post-wars modernity, right in the continuum with Bartok and Ravel and Stravinsky. Unlike Ozawa's work with Berlin in the complete symphonies set, the conductor at least doesn't work against Yundi Li and the orchestra this time out, which is saying something in this case, considering the sappy failure of the symphonies set.

Audience applause at the end of the Prokofiev put me on alert that this performance was recorded live, and that, in retrospect, raises its class marks. I still could do without live audience applause in most instances.

Then we get to the Ravel g minor concerto. Here Yundi Li does everything just right. Ozawa is just a tad less apt than his younger self, leading a French band to accompany Alexis Weissenberg in a stunning g minor outing. The real gem of this Ravel is the middle movement, a devilish tightrope act to get just right. Tempo, touch, and Olympian simplicities are needed, recalling Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, and guess what? Yundi Li compels in this middle movement. By the frisky, jazz-inflected third, all the players are hi jinks acrobats wearing Gene Kelly top hat and tails.

As the Ravel ends, no audience applause, thank goodness. Neither of these recordings is going to brashly supplant the available alternatives, but Yundi Li is good enough to fit in with the best of the available past artistic and musical company. And that is saying quite a lot, actually. Recommended, as a first recording, or an umpteenth of this repertoire.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Yundi Li Demonstrates His Familiarity with Prokofiev and Ravel in This Fine New Recording Feb. 24 2008
By John Kwok - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Fans of Chinese pianist Yundi Li - of which I am one - ought to rejoice after hearing his newest Deutsche Grammophon recording, which has him tackle Prokofiev's fiendishly difficult 2nd Piano Concerto with Ravel's jazzy Piano Concerto in G major alongside conductor Seiji Ozawa and the Berliner Philiharmoniker. A recipe for artistic disaster you might ask? Perhaps if Li was less than the truly capable artist that he has demonstrated already in his critically acclaimed Deutsche Grammophon recordings, especially of Chopin and Liszt. If nothing else, Li demonstrates that he has much technical as well as artistic sensibility in both pieces, especially the Prokofiev, since it demands a lot from the soloist in its difficult cadenzas in the first and fourth movements. Indeed, in the liner notes, Li observes how much is required of him in playing these cadenzas, noting especially that "the whole fourth movement is impassioned and aggressive and is incredibly difficult with its wide leaps" (The concerto is organized as follows: Andantino - Scherzo (Vivace) - Intermezzo (Allegro moderato) - Finale (Allegro tempestoso).). Artistically, Li finds himself in more familiar terrain in his exquisitely tranquil interpretation of the Ravel Piano Concerto in G major, allowing his Romantic sensibilities to emerge in his performance of the second movement (This concerto is organized as follows: Allegramente - Adagio assai - Presto.). In the liner notes Li praises conductor Ozawa for acting as a most thoughtful, sympathetic mentor and acknowledges the Berliner Philharmoniker as the world's finest symphony orchestra (Of course the orchestra under Ozawa's direction performs impeccably in both pieces.).

Without question, this new recording from Yundi Li is an important milestone in his artistic career. It demonstrates that he is indeed a serious artist, whose repertoire is not only firmly entrenched in the Romantic tradition emphasized by Chopin's and Liszt's works for the piano. On a more personal note, I had the pleasure of meeting him after his Carnegie Hall solo recital debut. He struck me as a most gracious, and quite humble, person; admirable traits that I have since heard in radio interviews and read in print as well. Admittedly, this may be another reason why I have a lot more respect for him artistically, than I have for another well-regarded young Chinese pianist, who will remain nameless. Fans of Yundi Li's artistry and those seeking fine recordings of the Prokofiev and Ravel piano concertos shouldn't hesitate in buying this superb Deutsche Grammophon CD.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Can Yundi stand the test of time? Nov. 22 2007
By Abert - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Having heard the performance in this year's BBC Proms by LSO (Valery Gergiev) with veteran Russian pianist Alexander Toradze at the piano, Seiji Osawa and Yundi Li's version is slightly faster, and with more light-hearted Romanticism especially at the keyboard. At times Li's touching sounded Chopin-like, unlike the terse and wild darkness of the Russian pair. Or go for an earlier 2006 Proms performance of this same piece by talented young Russians Nikolai Lugansky and Vladimir Jurowski in 2006, available on Youtube, whose profound keyboard touching and haunting style is again fully in sync with the piece. Li's pyrotechniques again proved to by astounding, with accurate wide jumps and flighty sleets of hands wherever there's demand. The movements are taken in great speed, at times too fast. This added much momentum to the musical lines, and should be able to please the ears of the most demanding connoisseur who may not be familiar with the piece. The BPO under Osawa produced explosion after explosion, again wherever demands come. The orchestral backing is never short of being superb in this recording.
If Santa Fe Listener has doubts about the style, I would perhaps supplement a word or two in this respect. The Prokofiev Concerto No. 2 is a piece that at times sounds eerie and frightening underneath its modern romanticism. The dark elements were effectively brought out by Gergiev and Toradze, as well as Lugansky and Jurowski in the Proms performance this August and last, who swept their audiences through a breath-takingly terse, tense and frightening reading, or a brilliantly haunting interpretation. While the BPO is largely effective in this respect under Osawa, overall, Yundi Li still has some lengths to go before he would fully come to grips with the profound and dark emotional turmoil of this `eerie' piece. This piece, obviously, is NOT a youthful work meant for youthful tastes, being composed in the wake of a tragedy that took place in the youthful years of the composer. Yundi Li's touching, in the first place, could be said to be somewhat lacking in its depth, and too tinkling for this piece.
The jazzy Ravel Concerto, however, better suits Li's performance style, and if I may be counted as ignorant, that piece is a more successful rendition to my ears by comparison.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Yundi is as forceful as ever, but there's not much genuine style to be had Nov. 18 2007
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Yundi Li, like his compatriot Lang Lang, was born outside Western musical traditions, and even with amazing technical gifts, he is faced with assimilating the various styles of German, French, and Russian style. So far, Yundi has been most successful in Chopin and Liszt, the former becasue Chopin provides a wide latitude of intimate personal expression, the latter becasue Liszt demands virtuosity first and style second.

On this new CD the stylistic is mixed. Yundi's way with the Prokofiev Second is Lisztian -- he gives us overwhelming technical displays first and foremost. Frankly, there's a lot of pounding here, but Prokofiev championed a percussive, not to say Machine-Age style of pianism. Where Yundi is all locomotion, Ozawa's conducting is rhythmically soft. It's not a mismatch, fortunately, and thanks to DG's ultra-detaile piano sound and the Berliners' effortless virtuosity, the end result is about as flashy a Prokofiev Second as one could wish for.

The Ravel G major has become a showpiece for Argerich, Aimard, and Thibaudet, all keyboard dazzlers, and Yundi fits right in. There used to be a true Gallic style of wit, dry sophisticaiton, and boulevard smartness that this concerto fits perfectly. You won't hear those qualities in Ozawa's straight-laced orchestral accompaniment, which is perfectly executed yet devoid of any particular style at all. The pianist is equally divorced from the music's Parisian origins, but nobody could complain about the dazzle factor here.

In all, I don't think this CD marks any advance in Yundi's musicianship, but he's in very good form. That's satisfying enough for an absorbing listen. The fact that the total timing is about 52 min. seems a shame. Yundi could have given us any number of fillers from Prokofiev's Visions fugitives or Ravel's solo keyboard works.
15 of 24 people found the following review helpful
A milestone in Yundi Li's recording career Nov. 20 2007
By Kee - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This album of Prokofiev piano concerto No.2 and Ravel concerto in G major is unique in the way that Li not only excels in both concertos, he also provided some fresh interpretations.

The masterpiece Prokofiev's piano concerto No.2 is not only difficult to play, it is also rather special in the way that it has got the rare wild temperament you seldom hear. This CD contains the most thrilling and fastest prokofiev concerto No.2 I have ever heard. A slow Prokofiev concerto No.2 will inevitably sound dull and uninteresting. One is impressed by Li's unique interpretation when he used sharp staccatos generously at the right places to produce some very spirited moments. One is also impressed by the enormous sound produced by his steely fingers especially during the third and the fourth movements. Li, together with Berliner Philharmoiniker, had succeeded in producing this truly unique, remarkable and thrilling Prokofiev concerto No.2. It is not only virtuosic, dramatic and colorful, it is also very expressive, spirited and thrilling. To excel in playing this concerto, being a virtuoso is not enough for a pianist, one needed to be able to catch the mood of this masterpiece more appropriately - Yundi Li is one such pianist.

Prokofiev's concerto No.2 was recorded live during the three night's sensational performances in Berlin. Yundi Li together with Seiji Ozawa and Berliner Philharmoiniker had done a marvelous job in giving the audiences in Berlin a memorable night.

All the four movements were indeed very well played by Li. Li started the first movement Andantino slowly and expressively, using more rubato than others. When it came to Allegretto, Li increased the speed significantly. For the long cadenza that lasted for 4'10", Li provided good contrast, was expressive, thoughtful and emotional. The difficult passages in the long cadenza were also superbly executed by Li. Although the piano sound was almost drowned by the full orchestra near the end of the long cadenza, you do not mind the least as you really need the full orchestra to build the music to its climax. If one insists on hearing the piano more clearly for these few bars, you will have to tone down the orchestra like what the pianist Horacio Gutierrez together with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra had done. Li had taken 11'02" for the first movement, not 11'12" as given in the booklet.

The second movement Scherzo was played with an incredible speed by Li , 2'9'' to be exact. It is not 2'17'' as stated in CD booklet. Two minutes and nine seconds is really incredibly fast when one needs to play so many notes non-stop in such a short time. That requires good concentration. Still, the piano and the orchestra were in good unison throughout the second movement.

The third movement Intermezzo which took 5' 34" by Li, was played with strong character and good variation of tone color. It was played with more staccato, more spirited and energetic playing that sounded like a march. Horacio Gutierrez had played this movement one minute slower with a rather different mood - milder and more gentle.

The fourth movement Allegro tempestoso began with passages that sounded like a cat screaming and jumping wildly on a hot tin plate. Li's steely fingers that produced steely sound, had really done a good job in bringing out the wild temperament of this movement. With more fiery passages and spirited staccato, the concerto finally ended with the piano and the orchestra playing the same fiery note. This movement took Li 10'33", not 11'03" as given in the booklet.

Ravel concerto in G major is rather interesting with its strong rhythms for the first and the third movements. Most people will enjoy its strong rhythms. Is this piece supposed to be dramatic for the first and the third movements but sad for the second movement? Ravel believed that a concerto can be lighthearted and brilliant instead of dramatic when he talked about this concerto. Hence, one should not expect this piece to be dramatic, instead, the first and the third movements are jazzy-like, simulating the rushing motor rhythms and perhaps the hustle-bustle sound of the city. You even hear the horse carriage through the sound made by the horse shoes at 0'59" into the first movement and subsequently at 1'18" etc. In fact, the first movement began with a sound of whip to start the horse carriage for an eventful ride through a busy street. Ravel had visited New York and just described what he saw in the street - an interesting concerto.

Some pianists had played the first and third movements in a more dramatic way while others less. Li began the first movement with a very lively and light-hearted allegramente to simulate that the traveller had started the journey in a high spirit. The jazzy-like passages in these two movements were very well played by Li, they are brilliant, crisp and fast with strong rhythm. With Li's virtuosic playing, there is no problem of adhering to the accurate and precise timing for these jazzy-like passages. Benedetti Michelangeli had sounded slightly slower for these passages compared with three other pianists that I had heard.

The second movement which is calm and beautiful had been thought by some to be a movement that is supposed to move one to tears. Perhaps that was how Benedetti Michelangeli had felt when he played this movement softer, slower, with more rubato and more seriousness compared with four other pianists such as Julius Katchen, Martha Argerich, Zimerman and Yundi Li. Will such a sad second movement blend well with the busy street scene described in the first and the third movements? Most probably not. Perhaps one could simulate the second movement with a calm and beautiful scenery seen by a traveller. Perhaps this is exactly how Yundi Li had perceived when he played this movement faster with less rubato and with more steady piano sound coming from his left hand to simulate that a traveller was on the move. With Li's more straight forward way of playing, the piano sound was aided by the orchestra in setting the music in such a deep tranquility that you can picture yourself as traveling slowly from a quiet wood to a more eventfull surrounding and then back to quietness again. I particularly enjoy Li's playing of this movement that had brought you through a journey of calm, beautiful and joyful ride. Very impressive playing by both Li and the Berliner Philharmoniker.


Alexander Toradze is far too slow for his interpretation of Prokofiev concerto No.2 to be acceptable. His third and fourth movements are so slow that the music is somehow distorted. His second movement is good but not his first movement - there is some obvious struggling with the massive chords in the long cadenza. Near the end of the long cadenza, in order to make it sound grand, he seemed to have added in many chords not written in the original music score. For this part of the music, you don't hear individual chords from Alexander Toradze like what you normally hear form other pianists. I have heard a few other recordings played by Ashkenazy,Horacio Gutierrez and Vladimir Feltsman. None of them played this portion in such a controversial way. Alexander Toradze seems to be the only one altering the music score by adding in many chords himself. You may think that the pianists I mentioned above are not among the best, let me quote the following from certain source:

"The Prokofiev Page (external links) unanimously recommends the 1991 recording with Neeme Järvi, Horacio Gutiérrez and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (Catalogue num.: Chandos 8889). André Previn's rendition with the London Symphony Orchestra and Vladimir Ashkenazy (Philips 452588) is also extolled."

Furthermore, soon after Alexander Toradze's controversial playing, the orchestra came in with very heavy drum. Again, you don't hear this from other recordings. This kind of controversial playing do increase the volume tremendously and may be pleasing to those who may not be familiar with the piece. Thus, those who like this kind of controversial playing may give comments such as:

`terse and wild darkness; profound and dark emotional turmoil of this eerie piece'. Yundi Li still has some lengths to go before he would fully come to grips with the profound and dark emotional turmoil of this `eerie' piece'. Yundi Li's touching, in the first place, could be said to be somewhat lacking in its depth, and too tinkling for this piece.

How very wrong! Not everyone likes to play this part of the music this way because it may not blend well with the music. Furthermore, is Prokofiev's concerto No.2 about `eerie' , 'dark emotional turmoil'? Why eerie? Although Prokofiev did go through a period of emotional turmoil during that period, one may not like to over interpret the dark side of this concerto by altering Prokofiev's original score like what Alexander Toradze had done.