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Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.3 / Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.2

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Audio CD, October 8, 2013
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  • Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.3 / Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.2
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Young Chinese virtuoso Yuja Wang plays two of the most demanding of all piano concertos in one concert, joining an orchestra and conductor of similar age.

The first recording with a soloist for the Simon Bolívar Orchestra and Gustavo Dudamel captures the extraordinary energy levels of a very special evening in Caracas.

This very special concert celebrated the 38th anniversary of the founding of Venezuelas unique music-education system, El Sistema.

Yuja Wang describes the performances with the Venezuelans as, a little explosive but controlled and very communicative.

The two Russian piano concertos on the album were written just three years apart though they present very different perspectives, with Rachmaninov celebrating the tradition of the 19th Century and Prokofiev facing forward into the 20th.

Rachmaninovs hugely popular Piano Concerto No.3 is his longest, most ambitious and most technically complex work for piano and orchestra. Yuja Wangs international performances of the concerto have already garnered great critical acclaim. Here she connects with the orchestra and conductor, as Gustavo Dudamel says, as if were playing chamber music.

Prokofievs Piano Concerto No.2 is phenomenally emotional and intense music that also presents huge technical challenges for the soloist - particularly in the long and ferociously complex first movement cadenza.


The Magician Maestro --The Guardian on Gustavo Dudamel

The most dazzlingly, uncannily gifted pianist in the concert world today --The San Francisco Chronicle on Yuja Wang

Yuja is very young and very talented, we re of the same generation and together we are all building a new generation of musicians and audiences. --Gustavo Dudamel
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Digital Booklet: Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.3 In D Minor, Op.30 / Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.2 In G Minor, Op.16
Digital Booklet: Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.3 In D Minor, Op.30 / Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.2 In G Minor, Op.16
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela
  • Conductor: Gustavo Dudamel
  • Composer: Sergei Rachmaninoff, Sergei Prokofiev
  • Audio CD (October 8, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B00EBJ624O
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,641 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
The remarkable thing about Yuja Wang is that she has somehow leap-frogged over her immediate Chinese predecessors, Lang Lang and Yundi, in her musicality. There's not the slightest hint that anything she has recorded, from Scarlatti to Ligeti, is foreign to her imagination. Where the other two superstars either avoid the Austro-German tradition or seem rather faceless in it (see Yundi's recent Beethoven album for DG), Wang made a superb recording of the Brahms Paganini Variations. She has every reason to be everyone's critical darling, especially when you consider her gossamer touch that seemingly overcomes all difficulties with a lovely sense of grace.

If grace were ever needed, it's in the two concertos on this program, the Rachmaninov Third, with its exhausting overlay of big chords and rapid fingerwork, and the Prokofiev Second, which takes his kinetic, spiky keyboard style to the max. The lead review notes the freshness of the music-making here, and I'd even add "affection." The Simon Bolivar Orchestra no longer bills itself as "Youth" anymore - I hope this means the older members are allowed to stay on rather than leaving after a certain age - but they perform Rachmaninov's accompaniment with a song in their hearts. Comparisons with great European and American orchestras are irrelevant, and Wang matches Dudamel with playing that's just as fresh and affectionate. Horowitz owned the Rachmaninov Third, and yet without imitating his high-voltage acrobatics (if that's permissible English), Wang's brilliance in the finale seems so impossibly feathery and powerful at the same time that it, too, traps lightning in a bottle.

Prokofiev's best works create their own quirky atmosphere, by turns witty, soulful, sarcastic, and barbaric.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Andrew R. Barnard on October 8, 2013
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It makes perfect sense to create a musical partnership between Yuja Wang and Gustavo Dudamel, both superstars with DG contracts. With the added influence of the Simon Bolivar Orchestra of Venezuela, there's a great feeling of freshness and youthful spontaneity. For all the thrill of excitement that these young musicians bring, some will worry that they'll show signs of inexperience. Despite flashy careers and great popularity, some critics charge them of shallowness, and lack of intrinsic musicality. Is there good cause for premonition?

Starting off with the Rachmaninov 3rd Concerto, long a virtuoso display piece, we hear musicianship that is well-considered and very mature. Rachmaninov readings of late have tended to shy away from gooey sentimentality in favor of more refinement and modernist sensibility. Here the first two movements could almost be seen as dry-eyed, yet they move with flexibility and true involvement. Every phrase sounds natural and there's dramatic undercurrent that lends a feeling of expectation. Wang has an inspiring technique, so she tackles every challenge with no sign of stress. But she doesn't simply run through the music either; she has commanding control and one feels she gives everything she has. She chooses the shorter, easier cadenza in the first movement, something some listeners will bewail, but it's a minor cavil either way. In the finale we get to hear actual fireworks for the first time, with both Wang and Dudamel letting go with frenzied abandon. I can't imagine anyone listening without being captivated by the sheer charisma of these musicians--it's quite an experience.

If anything the Prokofiev 2nd Concerto is better and there's comparatively little competition.
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62 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Donald F. Bowers on October 25, 2013
Format: Audio CD
I probably will be in the minority here,but I did not like this performance.I myself was a professional pianist but I played Chopin,Brahms and Mozart due to very small hands that wouldnt encompass the scope of Rachmaninoffs concerti.But I knew how I wanted to play it and this isnt it! Yuja Wang has a phenomenal technique.Her passagework is fantastic.Every note glitters and is clear.But where is there a performance here! It is like listening to Aida played by a chamber orchestra.This is Russian music at its most passionate composed by a complicated and passionate man. There is no tension in the phrasing. At times the pianissimi are so soft that you are straining to hear Wang AND the orchestra.You cant play this as a series of effects.There is meant to be a build up and release of tension.This is a theatrical conerto.It shouldnt be played as if it was you are in church.I kept waiting for SOMETHING to touch me,SOMETHING to make my pulse get fast. The last few minutes almost make up for the insipid performance, but when the great final expansive melody begins you realize you are listing to the beautiful playing of the Simon Bolivar Orchestra, not Yuja Wang. Then right before the cascading downward runs of the piano Dudamel does a sudden slaming on of the brakes and then a nutty accelerando.NOT in the score...why? Its jarring and makes no musical sense.I must admit I have enjoyed Dudamels conductiong so much in the past, but here his conducting does not live up to his previous performances.Sound is O.K. If you want to hear this concerto played with equal technical wizardry, but with abondon and sweep, get Steven Hough on Hyperion.It may not be his "fach" so to speak but they are grand performances that carry you along.Read more ›
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Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.3 / Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.2
This item: Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.3 / Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.2
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