I am happy to agree with most Amazon reviewers on Bronfman and Mehta's largely immaculate but unimaginative rendition of the great Prokofiev Second Concerto--as opposed to the undeserved rave delivered by David Hurwitz above. However, to be fair to the Fourth Concerto, which is clearly the least great in the pack, it has never sounded so coherent and swinging as in the hands of Bronfman/Mehta.
Evidently, Bronfman has no trouble with the vast technical challenges of the Second. However, the innovative, colourful brilliance unearthed by Gutierrez/Järvi, as well as the huge intrinsic amplitude brought out to such spectacular effect by Toradze/Gergiev (Prokofiev: The Five Piano Concertos), is smoothened out by Bronfman and Mehta's controlled approach.
It is not that easy to tell the Fourth Concerto is for the left hand alone--even if Prokofiev's left-hand writing does not reach quite the same level of inventive refinement as attained by Ravel and Korngold in their responses, respectively, to the commissions by Paul Wittgenstein. What needs to be singled out on this disc is the rendition of the third movement. For some reason, the current norm seems to be to opt for tardy pacing--something that seldom adds value in Prokofiev. Nonetheless, Bronfman and Mehta launch into a healthy and true Moderato instead of the 'Andante-yet-again' tempo of most other versions, which so much destroys the lilting character of the third movement. But neither they are able do much about the somewhat anaesthetic 'Andante-proper' second movement.
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra does a good job overall, sounding both refined and committed in the Fourth Concerto--even though the abnormally wide-ranging 1993 sound captured in the Fredric R. Mann Auditorium, especially in the low-bass register, makes the more lasting impression.
The Hebrew Overture is one of Prokofiev's most charming works. Even if being an excellent filler to the concertos, the solid performance by Bronfman and the Julliard String Quartet (joined by Giora Feidman, clarinet) does not take wing like that by Kissin and the Moscow Virtuosi under Spivakov.
Bronfman has also recorded the other three Piano Concertos as well as all the nine Piano Sonatas--generally good and solid performances but neither particularly imaginative nor memorable. That said, his partnership with Shlomo Mintz in the Violin Sonatas has rendered the most profoundly elegiac and exquisite account of the First in F minor--undoubtedly one of Prokofiev's most haunting masterpieces (Prokofiev: Violin Sonatas 1 & 2).
TIMINGS: Second--11:04, 2:28, 6:20, 10:58; Fourth--4:20, 9:51, 7:26, 1:40; Overture--10:27
REFERENCES: Second--Gutierrez/Järvi (Prokofiev: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 3); Fourth--This One; Overture--Kissin/Spivakov (Evgeny Kissin)