Prokofiev Complete Piano Concertos
Michel Beroff for EMI arguably finds subtler shadings, a richer palette of nuance in these perpetually fascinating pieces, but for sheer panache swagger and firebrand audacity, Ashkenazy is second to none. One might cite his jazzier, more astringent edge in the carefree First (and not least his dash to the finishing line where piano and glockenspiel positively rain down); or his steely resolve, so thrilling in the massive first movement cadenza of the Second (has it ever built quite so inexorably?); or his blade-like keenness in the Toccata of the Fifth.
Where Beroff will occasionally soften an extreme, Ashkenazy will play on it, heightening the constant juxtaposition of the spiky, the quirky, the belligerent and the exquisitely romantic. Previn is an eager collaborator, driving home the myriad rhythmic displacements, bringing an almost decadent luxuriance to the lyrical departures. In matters of transparency, he and Decca leave little to be desired: the veiled texturing of No. 4 springs readily to mind, but other examples are many.'