Prokofiev - Symphonies Vol.1
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Cat No: ONYX4137
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: 10th March 2014
ArtistsBournemouth Symphony Orchestra
This is the first release in a survey of all seven Prokofiev Symphonies from Kirill Karabits and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Karabits has had access to the Prokofiev family archive and throughout this project there will be quite a few surprises, such as music from the early Symphony in G of 1902 and works such as 'Dreams' Op.6, 'Autumnal Sketch' Op.8 and 'Two Poems for orchestra and Women’s Chorus' Op.7, as well as the 'Sinfonia Concertante' for cello & orchestra. Each CD booklet contains an interview with Karabits in conversation with Prokofiev expert Daniel Jaffé.
The 3rd Symphony makes extensive use of music from the opera 'The Fiery Angel'. It was premiered in 1929 under Pierre Monteux and is vividly colourful, sensual and exciting. The 7th Symphony dates from 1952, the year before the composer’s death. Intended as a work for young people, it is beautiful, yet enigmatic and reflective, harking back to the great ballet scores. Prokofiev provided an alternative ‘upbeat’ conventional ending to the symphony at the request of colleagues so as not to provoke criticism from the Soviet authorities. This alternative finale can be heard after the 7th symphony on this CD. Today the work is always performed with the peaceful ‘leave taking’ ending that the composer preferred.
"the orchestra has developed a new authority in Russian-Soviet music. In Prokofiev’s Seventh Symphony they demonstrated their keen affinity for this score, part of a current recording project Karabits drew from his players a vivid communication of the work’s dual nature. The warm, Elgar-like melody of the slow movement was offset by the spiky, playful angularity of the finale, performed with the composer’s original quiet ending. The boisterous, optimistic alternative coda he added later for political expediency was offered as a brief encore." - The Guardian, December 2012
The Europadisc Review
This new disc from Onyx provides a cracking start to a new Prokofiev cycle from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under their principal conductor, Kirill Karabits. Rather than playing safe by launching the cycle with the popular 'Classical' Symphony or the highly regarded Fifth, Karabits has chosen two of the lesser-known symphonies, the Third (based on music from Prokofiev's opera The Fiery Angel) and the Seventh (a work of often childlike simplicity). It is an enterprising coupling which pays off in performances that combine polish, clarity and expressive commitment.
The Third Symphony starts exceptionally boldly with a startling call to arms, but Karabits doesn't forego all the feeling in Prokofiev's tenor-register melodies and there's a palpable dramatic atmosphere which is entirely appropriate given the music's operatic origins. This work was first conducted by Pierre Monteux, a musician who – like Prokofiev – knew a thing or two about orchestral colour; so too does Karabits, bringing out the many contrasts and lending the sound an urgent edge. The Andante slow movement is meltingly reflective, while the quick-fire Scherzo is splendidly mercurial and mysterious, and the trio gorgeously languorous. The finale is imposing without ever becoming too heavy: conductor and orchestra clearly know how to achieve clarity even in the weightiest passages, so that the music makes proper impact without textures ever becoming clogged up. With biting brass, characterful woodwind and some searing string playing, this is a really fine performance which will hopefully win this Symphony many new admirers.
The Seventh Symphony provides a fascinating contrast, and the playing is similarly impressive, albeit with very different results. Karabits perfectly captures the wistfulness of the opening movement, the tongue-in-cheek playfulness of the Allegretto, and the easy-going tenderness of the Andante. The finale is a wonderfully light, witty and sparkling affair, taken at a swift but natural-sounding tempo, and played with a combination of flair and delicacy. Karabits opts for the original quiet, 'tick-tock' ending (a reminiscence of the firs movement, itself 'borrowed' from Rimsky-Korsakov's Golden Cockerel), but manages to have his cake and eat it by including the more upbeat revision as the briefest of encores, which is a nice touch.
The recording, made at the Lighthouse in Poole, is as natural in focus as one would expect from experienced balance engineer Mike Clements, and the booklet interview with Karabits sheds interesting light on both symphonies. This is an extremely promising start to what should be a fascinating cycle.
1Symphony no.3 - I. Moderato
2Symphony no.3 - II. Andante
3Symphony no.3 - III. Allegro agitato - Allegretto
4Symphony no.3 - IV. Andante mosso - Allegro moderato
5Symphony no.7 - I. Moderato
6Symphony no.7 - II. Allegretto - Allegro
7Symphony no.7 - III. Andante espressivo
8Symphony no.7 - IV. Vivace - Moderato marcato
9Symphony no.7 - IV. Vivace (alternative ending)
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