This 2014 Decca release of two famous Russian piano concertos, Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor and Sergey Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, cannot be faulted for a lack of practice, because Behzod Abduraimov has played these works on numerous occasions. In 2009, he won the London International Piano Competition with his fiery reading of the Prokofiev, and in 2014 he took the Tchaikovsky on tour internationally, so there's only a question of how fresh the playing can be after numerous performances. Chalk it up to youthful resilience or personal charisma, but Abduraimov shows abundant energy and brilliance, qualities that aren't worn down by the physical demands of these works. If anything, he appears to relish the opportunity to play them with different conductors and orchestras, each time giving his all in collaborative efforts that have won critical praise everywhere he has performed.
Although the U.S.S.R.'s system of identifying and training musically talented youngsters produced amazingly precocious pianists on a regular basis, Evgeny Kissin stood out from the rest for a talent far surpassing that of the usual Wunderkind. He has become, seemingly without difficulty, one of the finest adult pianists on the world's concert stages…
This concerto includes Prokofiev's Classical Symphony No.1 and Tchaikovsky's piano concerto No.1 featuring Evgeny Kissin. Karajan is in very good mood despite the pain in his back that kept him leaning back (instead of his customary forward position) in the special supporting device prepared for him in the conductor's podium.
Fazil Say's dynamic pianism has created quite a buzz, and his version of these two warhorses helps explain why. There's little anyone can add to what Richter, Gilels, Argerich, and others have revealed about the Tchaikovsky, but Say's flawless playing, big technique, and fetching sonorities are welcome. He rises to the big moments, of course, but he's best at conveying the poetry of a score whose proponents too often wallow in bombast…–Dan Davis