Maddest BBC Prom for years

Maddest BBC Prom for years


norman lebrecht

April 23, 2015

Has to be the Valery Gergiev concert with all five Prokofiev piano concertos, two each played by Daniil Trifonov and his teacher Sergei Babayan (pictured), and the one-handed fourth by Alexei Volodin.

It’ll be an endurance test for the audience.

But they can pass the time working out which soloist got the least rehearsal time with the maestro.

Daniil Trifonov and Sergei Babayan - Cleveland Institute of Music, Kulas Hall




  • Dr Presume says:

    I dunno, Yo Yo Ma playing all six Bach cello suites in a single concert seems even stranger to me… Just can’t imagine it working in the RAH acoustic at all.

  • Christian says:

    What is actually “mad” about a two hour concert with some of Prokofiev’s best music? A good idea, it is, but certainly not “mad”.

    • Herbert Pauls says:

      I fully agree. This would be a very exciting concert, tailor made for a large audience – and not nearly the audience endurance test of all six Bach Suites (I have been to one of those…at least it had six different players). The concertos are all very unique in their own way and have a lot of variety, ranging from high romanticism to spiky neo-classicism. A wealth of lyrical melody rubs shoulders with truly spectacular virtuosity, not to mention moments of what (in their time at least) were once seen as futuristic daring.

      An event like this inevitably brings to mind the fact that there was a once a time when it was more common to fill a whole program with concertos, and great soloists would sometimes perform feats of endurance by carrying the entire evening on their own. Cliburn, in his prime, did the Grieg, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff Third in one concert. I personally wish there was more of this sort of thing.

      • Jeffrey Biegel says:

        I agree, Herbert. I think it would be exciting to hear the succession. It depends on the theme of the event. I once did Chopin 1 in the first half and Prokofiev 3 in the second half for a Chopin Foundation anniversary concert.

  • KeyboardCity says:

    Gergiev rehearse? That will be the day…

  • anon says:

    Just heard Shaham do his all-solo-Bach recital in January. 6 suites, 2 intermissions, 3 hours.

    • avi kujman says:

      Yes, but this is a solo recital. He came prepare for sure. It shows a devotion even. Not sure that Norman was wide off the mark in asking how serious it would be with a conductor that does 1, 000, 000 (or was it more…) performances a year.

    • SDReader says:

      The violinist? Playing six suites?

  • Ivor Morgan says:

    =there was a once a time when it was more common to fill a whole program with concertos

    Yes, for example Ruggiero Ricci playing Mozart, Lalo and Sibelius concertos in one night. Quite exciting

    • Herbert Pauls says:

      Another fascinating example was Enescu playing the Liszt E flat Concerto and the Brahms Violin Concerto in one concert.

    • Alexander says:

      Sounds great. I normally choose a concert because I want to hear a particular soloist and/or concerto. That tends, for me, to be a bigger factor than wanting to hear a particular symphony, orchestra, or conductor, although there a particular favourites of mine that I will go out of my way to hear (e.g. Verklärte Nacht or Metamorphosen für 23 Solostreicher). If we’re getting five concertos in a night I’m going to say my dream concert right now will be Gil Shaham playing Berg, Korngold, Khachaturian, Sibelius, and, hmm, no. 5 will be a toss-up between Vasks’s Distant Light and Pärt’s Tabula Rasa (with James Ehnes).

  • anon says:

    This is for certain. “The Trifonov Show” plus some other concerti…if you have nothing better to do, stay for 4 and 5… but really, show’s over with 3.

  • Ppellay says:

    Oh please! I remember back in the late 1980s when Lorin Maazel programmed all 9 Beethoven symphonies in one day at the RFH with 3 London orchestras. The 5 Prokofiev piano concertos will take about 2½ hours in performance including interval. Not in the slightest bit excessive as far as I’m concerned!

  • Mikey says:

    “aren’t top drawer”?
    the 4th is a work of pure genius. as is the 5th.

  • anon says:

    I like the idea that a conductor who performs that many concerts a year (and already has performed these works with these soloists before) needs a certain amount of rehearsal time to legitimize the value of this concert. Gergiev on a bad day is still going to make it interesting.

  • Andrew Condon says:

    Pity the poor piano – its going to be knackered after all that pounding!

  • Duane says:

    If anybody can do it, it is these two great pianists! I wish I could be there. I hope there will be a recording. The Prokofiev piano concertos are amongst my favorites. The skill level required in playing them is daunting. Trifonov and his teacher, Babayan, have performed many times at the Cleveland Institute of Music, my alma mater. Their brilliant playing, with Gergiev conducting, should make this a concert to remember for years to come.

  • Donald Wright says:

    Konstantin Lifschitz’s traversal in one day of all 48 preludes and fugues of Bach’s WTC (live and from memory, with total playing time of about 4-1/2 hours), partitioned into morning and evening performances, has to have been the granddaddy of grueling endurance tests, certainly for the pianist. While watching the DVD of his March 30th, 2008 performance at the Miami International Piano Festival, I believe that I had to take more breaks than Lifschitz did!

    How I would love to be there for those Prokofiev concertos.