I think I was a junior in college when a Care package arrived from my mom, containing among other things a vinyl recording of Prokofiev's 2nd Piano Concerto. I was intrigued, having only ever heard his popular Third Piano Concerto and cued the record up on my turntable. A brief two-bar opening in woodwinds shortly gave way to a beautiful, almost hypnotic left-hand accompaniment in 12/8 time, which felt almost like a barcarole. Over this, the right hand stated a simple theme in octaves, answered in phrases by the orchestra and the first movement was underway. After some variations and the introduction of one new theme, the full reins of the work were handed to the pianist, who proceeded to restate the original theme, then take it into territory which even the most skilled of keyboard artists dare only with considerable forethought and at least equal amounts of practice! This cadenza runs fully five minutes of expression and explosion, euphonious one second and mind-jarringly cacophonous the next. Finally, once the bounds of pianistic virtuosity have been sufficiently expanded, the piano returns control of the work to the brass section, which restates the initial woodwind introduction, only this time in potent, unquestioned declamation. The brass repeats this theme once, whereupon the orchestra in full force takes its last two notes as if to say, E-NOUGH! Instantly, orchestra and soloist retreat to pianissimo, the piano meditating on its initial theme, the orchestra on the woodwind opening as descant, repeated to a peaceful close on a low G.
And that's only the first movement of four ... yet that first movement has been special to me from my first audition of it some 40 years ago. As to performances, I am particularly very fond of Gutierrez and Jarvi's excellent collaboration on Chandos. Luckily, that performance has been recorded on YouTube, and I am very glad to offer it here.
Thanks Loren, I enjoyed that very much!
I should mention too, I suppose, that next Saturday, I get to hear The Cleveland Orchestra perform this concerto at Severance Music Center. It will be the third or fourth time I've heard it live, yet I can tell you that I will never tire of this wonderful work.
Goodness Loren, I had no idea you were (are) so knowledgable about music! Impressive--as is the piano concerto. Thanks for sharing.
Entirely my joy, Randall. I should mention that YouTube has the rest of the concerto with Gutierrez and Jarvi, if you look around a bit.
My parents got me started in classical music when I was a kid, and a 2-1/2 year stint at an independent film and video studio sunk the hook in me for high-end sound reproduction. Add to that the audio salesman I first met in 1978 who became my best friend and has a CD and vinyl collection to stagger the mind, and I am one lucky recipient of an utterly informal education in music and music appreciation.
Loren, It's nice to see someone "out there" has a keen appreciation for good music. I often feel alone. I, too, was raised in a musical family--Mom a music major at IU, Dad a jazz piano player (side jobs), sister a classical pianist. Me, pianist, guitarist, former member of IU's Singing Hoosiers, etc. By the way, I just bought a CD of Bach's 4 Orchestral Suites which is great listening! Enjoy the Orchestra performance next Saturday.
Don't feel alone, Randall! People who can't read music or play an instrument and on top of that are slowly getting deaf, have a hard time writing an intelligent comment. I grew up with Schubert, Bach and a few thousand psalms and I still love music. Threw away the psalms, had enough of Bach's choral work, still listen to Schubert and to a lot of other composers. I stock my brains with my favourite music against the day my hearing stops working.
Good for you, Chris! I listen to classical and jazz during all of my "at home" days. At nearly age 80, I'm going through all my old records, tapes, and CDs for what may be the last time. I'm hoping my hearing holds on. What's to become of my music collection remains unknown. I'm hoping one of my kids or grandkids will want to hang on to them. Who knows?