This almost universally praised disc has now been repackaged –
and the main work correctly renamed - at superbudget price, making
a superb bargain for anyone who didn’t catch it first time around.
It’s easy to hear why the critics, including these columns (see
were fulsome in their admiration. Han-Na Chang was the youngest
cellist to tackle the mature Symphony-Concerto on disc,
and the results were pretty sensational. It can seem a sprawling,
somewhat unwieldy work in the wrong hands, but Chang manages a
near ideal blend of youthful impetuosity - without ever sounding
rushed - allied to a (to my ears) flawless technique which makes
light of Prokofiev’s demands. Coaxed and supported beautifully
by Pappano and an on-form London Symphony Orchestra, she soars
majestically in the many lyrical passages whilst clearly enjoying
the pyrotechnics of the lightning-fast scherzo. Here, Pappano’s
speeds could have got everyone into trouble; instead, it’s a sensational
helter-skelter ride that thrills to the core. He even gets the
brass to blaze out with an authentic Russian wobble at 6:05
(tr.2), bringing all those old Melodiya recordings to mind.
always stuck by the Chandos disc of this piece from player-scholar
Alexander Ivashkin, ably supported by the Russian State Orchestra
under Valeri Polyansky, but going back to it now, it seems stodgy
and rather unfocused overall, though Ivashkin’s playing is resonant
and deeply felt. The Chandos recording from Moscow doesn’t help, sounding cloudy and
resonant against the demonstration quality EMI sound from Abbey Road.
coupling of another late work, the more familiar Cello Sonata,
makes good planning sense, ands whilst not as immediately colourful
as the Concerto, it’s full of typical Prokofiev touches. The
andante grave opening is brooding and intense; there’s
an abundance of lyrical lines throughout as well as plenty of
moto perpetuo rhythms to keep the excitement levels up.
I had no comparisons to hand, but can’t imagine a more deeply
felt or superbly executed performance than this. Chang’s playing
is once again taut and ardent, and Pappano’s accompaniment sounds
authentically weighty and grand.
is poor, as with so many superbudget reissues, but if you like
this composer’s music, this really is not to be missed at this