This awaited release is the first disc in a series of Olli Mustonen and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hannu Lintu performing the Piano Concertos by Sergei Prokofiev. Without a doubt some of the most substantial twentieth century masterworks, Prokofievs piano concertos prove the composers brilliant piano skills. The composer premiered his First Piano Concerto in 1914. The Third Piano Concerto is the most popular of Prokofievs concertos. The piece took several years to complete, and premiered in Chicago in 1921. Prokofievs Fourth Piano Concerto (for the left hand) is the most rarely heard of the three concertos featured on this recording.
Of Ottorino Respighi's vast output, only a handful are commonly played today. The so-called "Roman Trilogy" certainly tops the list of his most familiar, popular works. On the other end of the continuum is the Concerto in modo misolidio, a piano concerto in the mixolydian mode. Why this riveting work is not played more often is anyone's guess. It incorporates Respighi's innate talents as a master orchestrator, his deference to classical forms (in this case, the three-movement concerto format), and his love of ancient music and modes.
This CD features the acclaimed Finnish pianist Olli Mustonen with piano works by Alexander Scriabin, which have become his signature pieces in recital. The virtuoso sets of Etudes and Preludes cover a wide range of late-Romantic expressions, from heroic to religious, ecstatic to melancholic. The Sonata No. 10 is regarded as one of Scriabin’s greatest works. The collection culminates with the pianistic tour-de-force of Vers la flamme, an astonishing piece famously championed by the late Vladimir Horowitz.
Bohuslav Martinů produced a huge catalogue of chamber music for a variety of instruments. The cello seems to have occupied a special place in his heart, however, and the three cello sonatas were probably of great significance to him; each of them has an entirely distinct character and appears to owe something to extra-musical events. The most dramatic of the three, the First Sonata was written in Paris in May 1939, shortly after Martinů’s Czech homeland had fallen to the Nazis. Having fled Paris in 1940, Martinů composed Sonata No.2 shortly after reaching safety in the USA, and the work celebrates the rhythms and the verve of the new world. Although written in memory of a deceased friend, the Third Sonata is still more celebratory: even the slow movement is pastoral rather than tragic, while the finale – or at least its ending – ‘would hardly be out of place at a rodeo’, as Steven Isserlis writes in his own liner notes to this disc.