Prokofiev: Piano Concertos – No 1 in D flat major, Op 10; No 3 in C major, Op 26; Overture on Hebrew Themes, Op 34bis

Reviewed on Fri 13 Oct, 2017

For all the unruffled poise and dazzling coordination on show, I do miss that last ounce of temperament needed for any performance if it's to really cut the mustard.

Enviably polished, supremely tasteful accounts of this appealing repertoire, if not quite the whole story. Simon Trpčeski proves a shapely and stylish soloist, fully on top of Prokofiev's prodigious technical demands, and he receives consistently articulate and sympathetic support from Vasily Petrenko and the excellent RLPO. In the youthful First Concerto, however, there isn't enough sense of edge-of seat danger, swagger and chutzpah for my own tastes. Granted, much melting beauty is distilled in the central Andante assai, and there's a welcome burst of energy in the work's coruscating closing pages, but the performance doesn't quite add up to the sum of its intermittently impressive parts. It's a similar tale in the Third, where the sparks don't fly in the manner of a Argerich, Béroff, Krainev or the composer himself (with Piero Coppola and the LSO, recorded in 1932). For all the unruffled poise and dazzling coordination on show, I do miss that last ounce of temperament needed for any performance if it's to really cut the mustard. There's a lovely filler in the shape of a conspicuously poised Overture on Hebrew Themes (one of the most beguiling I've encountered since Claudio Abbado's remarkable account with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe for DG). The engineering, too, is absolutely first class. Is it enough to tip the balance in the new disc's favour? Only you can decide.
–Andrew Achenbach