While his concert debut with the London Symphony Orchestra took place in October 1977, he had in fact already made his first recording with its players. In July of that year, at London’s famous Abbey Road Studios, he conducted them and soloist Andrei Gavrilov – born, like Rattle, in 1955 – in a pairing of two compact, concentrated works: Prokofiev’s high-octane Piano Concerto No 1 and Ravel’s brave and intense Concerto for the Left Hand.
Gavrilov, who trained at the Moscow Conservatory, had achieved widespread recognition in 1974 when he won the International Tchaikovsky Competition and went on to make his international debut at the Salzburg Festival.
The album, which represented both the conductor’s and the pianist’s debuts on the HMV label, is the earliest Rattle recording in the Warner Classics catalogue. When it was originally released in 1978,Gramophone opined: “… However high your expectations may be, I would be surprised to learn that they were disappointed … This newcomer is second to none in both works,” and praised the young Rattle as “a conductor of keen responsiveness and sensitivity.” The recording went on to win a Gramophone Award in 1979.