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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Serge PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C in C, Op. 26 (1917-21) [29’29]
Piano Sonata No. 7 in B flat, Op. 83 (1939-42) [18’32]
Violin Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 80 (1938-460 [29’33].
Mari Kodama (Op. 26), John Lill (Op.83), Craig Sheppard (Op. 80) (pianos); Mayumi Fujikawa (violin) (Op. 80); Philharmonia Orchestra/Kent Nagano (Op. 26).
Rec. St Barnabas Church, Mitcham in June 1991 (Op. 26); Henry Wood Hall, London, on March 13th-14th, 1989 (Op. 83); St Peter’s, Morden, in June 1990 (Op. 80). DDD
ASV PLATINUM PLT8516 [78’28]



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Mari Kodama gives a highly musical account of Prokofiev’s most popular concerto, originally issued in 1992 on CDDCA786, without displacing any of the more usual favourites in this piece (Argerich remaining at the top of the pile). Kodama is most successful in the second and third movements. The finale, interestingly, is more balletic than virtuosic, seeming like a segment from Romeo and Juliet with piano obbligato. The problem lies in the first movement: glissandi fail to glisten, there is an overall sense of Japanese over-politeness, and the return of the introduction fails to convey a true sense of arrival.

The coupling here is interesting, though. The Seventh Sonata has a peerless interpreter in Maurizio Pollini (DG), not to mention Sviatoslav Richter. On a very superficial level, the music suits John Lill’s heavy-handed style well (this performance is from CDDCA755). Of course, the music poses no technical problems for Lill, but one cannot get away from a certain pedestrian element, especially in the ‘Andante caloroso’. The finale is exciting in its own way, but it does not have the true cumulative energy this music requires.

The First Violin Sonata (originally on CDDCA667) receives a mixed reading. The first movement is the most successful, giving the impression of a substantive musical statement. Fujikawa’s stopping is particularly commendable. The shrill recording is off-putting in the Allegro brusco. Things do improve: the Andante is delicate, and the finale dances quite nicely. There are some nice dialogues between Fujikawa and her pianist, Craig Sheppard, but never are they really inside Prokofiev’s skin.

A very interesting disc in terms of repertoire, then, but alas none of the performances can be unhesitatingly recommended.

Colin Clarke

 



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