Cons Pno 2/Con Pno in G
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|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|
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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are undoutebly performances that make us to reconsider our opinions
on some overlooked works. Yundi Li and maestro Ozawa do a great job in this
goal, delivering a fantastic performance of the devilishly difficult Prok's
2nd PC. This Li's reading is a matter of miracle, just comparable to a high
landmark set by a monster called Alexander Toradze. Ozawa and the berliners
are the perfect partners to do the perfect and great performance for ages
Unfortunately, that's not the same for the Ravel concerto. This is a just
average performance, and despite Li's very good reading, he sounds a bit overcontrolled and even sometimes hesitating, not enough daring, not enough
wild, not enough french. Furthermore, the orchestra accompaniments sound
thin and distant. Just check the Bernstein video playing this concerto, or
listen performances by Collard, Francois or Larrocha and compare. You could
be a bit disappointed after listening such a miracle in Prokofiev's concerto
In conclusion, a very recommendable CD but just for this Prokofiev's 2nd.