For Evgeny Kissin, recording Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto must be déjà vu all over again, to quote noted American philosopher Yogi Berra, because every time the Russian pianist switches labels, he records the piece again. In 1985, he recorded it for RCA with Andrei Chistyakov and the Moscow Philharmonic, and in 1994, he recorded it for Deutsche Grammophon with Claudio Abbado and the Berliner Philharmoniker. In 2008 he recorded it for EMI with Vladimir Ashkenazy leading the Philharmonia Orchestra.
The Pavel Haas Quartet, one of the very finest chamber ensembles of the present time, earned for their first two CDs (Janáček, Pavel Haas) numerous prestigious accolades (Classic FM Gramophone Award, BBC Music Magazine Award, Cannes MIDEM Classical Award, etc.). With the Prokofiev pieces featured on this album the Quartet has for the first time entered the field of the Russian (or, if you will, international) repertoire.
Winning first prize at the 1989 Van Cliburn Competition, Alexei Sultanov enjoyed a meteoric rise of epic proportions, with a major recording contract, Carnegie Hall recital, American and European tours, and TV appearances with Johnny Carson, David Letterman, and other notables. But Sultanov's star soon fell to Earth as critics would often characterize his bold style in unflattering terms, finding his interpretive manner feral and superficial, and his herculean fortes ostentatious: he broke a string during a performance of the Liszt First Mephisto Waltz at the Cliburn Competition. But the youthful pianist's health soon proved a more formidable opponent than any critic's pen, as a series of strokes sabotaged his career, eventually leaving him paralyzed on his left side after 2001. Though he died at 35, Sultanov left a memorable though controversial legacy. His Prokofiev, Chopin, Rachmaninov, and Scriabin could rivet the listener, while his Beethoven and Mozart might have been less consistently engaging. His recordings, mostly available from Warner Classics, document the enormous talent of this imaginative performer, a pianist unafraid to take interpretive chances.
The young Kissin was able to work wonders in Prokofiev–above all the Sixth Sonata (Kissin in Tokyo - Yevgeny Kissin). Regrettably, the mature Kissin recently delivered highly disappointing live performances of the Second and Third Concertos (Prokofiev: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 3), indeed, regardless of the predictable rave in the British press. This 1994 recording of the First and Third Concertos is unquestionably very good, especially the youthful First, although competition is very strong–from Graffman/Szell (Prokofiev: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 3) and Argerich/Dutoit (Prokofiev: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 3 / Bartok: Piano Concerto No. 3) in this coupling, and from the complete sets by Berman/Gutierrez/Järvi, Toradze/Gergiev and Krainev/Kitaenko.
In 1976, when the cold war was cold indeed, wrote the New York Times, Lazar Berman appeared virtually unannounced from behind the Iron Curtain and provided the West with an exotic glimpse of a secretive Soviet musical life. On his first United States tour, Mr. Berman made an overwhelming impression as a performer who did more than just overcome technical problems; he seemed to crush them into insignificance. Bermans recordings, though relatively few in number, confirmed that impression.
The debut recording from a young Russian pianist who wowed the public and critics with his recent Prokofiev piano concerto cycle with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, he embarks upon a recital tour to Japan in January, playing repertoire that includes the complete Prokofiev piano sonatas. In May 2013 Denis Kozhukhin will perform Sonatas 6–8 at the South Bank Centre’s The Rest is Noise festival. He won the coveted first prize at the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition in Belgium in 2010 and is now in demand with many leading orchestras.