One of the most grown-up review sites around


Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

in the first division


extraordinary by any standards


An excellent disc


a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.


Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now
RECORDING OF THE MONTH


A Garland for John McCabe


ABRAHAMSEN Quartets


DIETHELM Symphonies


The best Rite of Spring in Years


BACH Magnificat


Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26


Just enjoy it!


.
La Mer Ticciati

Eriks EŠENVALDS

Detlev GLANERT

Jaw-dropping

 

 

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount


Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this from
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Suite from Romeo and Juliet (1938) (transc. Arthur Ancelle) [34:28]
Suite from Cinderella (1940-44) (transc. Mikhail Pletnev) [35:54]
Ludmilla Berlinskaya and Arthur Ancelle (pianos)
rec. 2013, location not given.
MELODIYA MELCD1002207 [70:24]

The Melodiya label is a household name amongst classical music collectors, but this release marks a new milestone in its fifty year history. Started in 1964 when a number of then Soviet centres of record production and manufacture were merged into one state-owned firm. Melodiya has a huge archive, but this new recording is amongst the first made under its auspices for more than twenty years.
 
Prokofiev’s ballets Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella are well known in their orchestral versions, and the former also has a popular version for piano solo. There is a pragmatic tradition for transcribing such works for two pianos as a way of bringing the best out of an orchestral score with a minimum of resources. Diaghilev would have heard ballets by Ravel, Stravinsky and others for the first time in this way. Arthur Ancelle’s Romeo and Juliet is characteristic and familiar sounding, though he is happy to stretch the arrangements to include a few extra effects, such as the knocking on wood which sets up the rhythm for ‘Masks’, and some extra resonance effects here and there. These elements have their own magic, and give the music pianistic dimensions which help displace any sense of compromise without the orchestra. After a remarkable introduction, the mighty and famous ‘Montagues and Capulets’ has the melody in unison from both instruments giving it a fiendish music-box character. Berlinskaya and Ancelle’s playing has bags of impact and drama in movements such as ‘The Death of Tybalt’ and plenty of moving tenderness in the following ‘Farewell’.
 
Mikhail Pletnev’s version of Cinderella was famously recorded by him and Martha Argerich (see review), and this disc can now be had has part of the DG ‘Martha Argerich Collection’ (see review) which is highly recommendable at every level. Comparing these recordings brings us to a minor point about the Melodiya production, which places the two pianos closer together than the DG recording. Piano duos will usually fit the two instruments together as snugly as possible, and the Berlinskaya/Ancelle sound is closer to a concert registration where the Argerich/Pletnev recording has more left/right separation. This is more ‘studio’ but also serves to define the two players more and has its own excitement in terms of dialogue. Timings are similar for the most part, and Berlinskaya/Ancelle bring their own energy and verve to the piece. In absolute terms my choice would still be for Argerich/Pletnev, simply for the expressive depth and elasticity they bring to movements such as ‘Cinderella’s Waltz’, where Berlinskaya/Ancelle are more ‘on top’ of the notes and not quite as able to float on top of the music. This is not to take away from the wit and character they bring to the music, and on its own terms this is a terrific performance which I’m very happy to have heard.
 
A separate section in the booklet is devoted to Yamaha pianos, and the instruments here do sound very good indeed. I’m more of a Blüthner/Bösendorfer/Bechstein sort of person, but the bright sound of these pianos suits this music very well indeed. I would have preferred an ounce or two more weight in the bass, but the clarity and detail in this recording is very fine, and the acoustic of the unnamed venue is also captured to advantage. With stunning playing of excellent music by this superb young Russian-French duo what more could you ask for – more please from the rejuvenated Melodiya.
 
Dominy Clements