PROKOFIEV:  Piano Concerto No. 3 in C, Op. 26.  Suggestion diabolique, Op. 4 No. 4.  9 Excerpts from Vision fugitives, Op. 22.  Gavotte from Classical Symphony.  Andante assai from Sonata No. 4, Op. 29.  Conte de la vielle grand-mĖre, Op. 31 Nos. 2 and 3.  Gavotte, Op. 32 No. 3.  Etude, Op. 52. Sonatina Pastorale, Op. 59 No. 3.  Paysage, Op. 59 No. 2.
Serge Prokofiev, pianist/London Symphony Orch/Piero Coppola, cond.

NAXOS 8.110670 (B) (ADD) TT:  56:18

Naxos continues its superb historic series with this issue of Serge Prokofiev's 1932 recording of his Piano Concerto No. 3.  The work was premiered in 1921 in Chicago with the composer as soloist with Frederick Stock and the CSO. The following year he played it in Paris with Serge Koussevitzky on the podium, and later played several performances with Albert Coates conducting. After one of these a critic wrote, "We must honestly confess we never understood Mr. Prokofiev's music until he played it himself."  Many decades later Concerto No.3 is in the repertory of most pianists and many have recorded it. The composer's own recording, made June 27/28, 1932 in Abbey Road Studios, is of enormous interest. He obviously was a first-rate pianist easily able to cope with the concerto's manifold difficulties, although he does play the final pages a bit slower than most others. However the remainder moves right along, with a total playing time of 24:31 compared with 25:12 for Kapell/Dallas SO/Dorati,  27:14 (rec. 1945), Argerich/BPO/Abbado, 28:38 (rec.1967). Ashkenazy/LSO/Previn, 29:49 (rec. 1974), Van Cliburn/CSO/Hendl (rec.1960), and 30:43 for Toradze/Kirov Orch/Gergiev (rec.1996). The fine notes by Jonathan Summers point out that Piero Coppola was artistic director of the French branch of HMV and no doubt influenced the decision to record this work. He leads a firm accompaniment with even a touch of portamento on occasion (the first at :22 into the first movement). 

All of Prokofiev's solo recordings of his own works fill out this CD. It's surprising that Suggestion diabolique is rather sedate—compared with performances by Richter and Kissin (the latter as an encore after a BBC broadcast of Prokofiev's Concerto No. 2).  It is unfortunate Prokofiev didn't record more of his works—how fascinating it would be to hear him play his Concerto No. 2, completed in 1913 but totally revised in 1923 when all of the original parts were lost. Perhaps we should be content with what we have. The transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn are perfection—this sounds quite superior to any previous issue I know.  Budget price, too!

R.E.B. (Nov. 2001)