Martinu, Schickele, Copland and Prokofiev

COMPOSERS: Copland and Prokofiev,Martinu,Schickele
ALBUM TITLE: Allegra Chamber Music
PERFORMER: Allegra Chamber Music


An abundance of polished balance and intonation, as well as a troubling lack of tonal variety and lyrical spontaneity, marks these performances by Allegra, a Montreal-based chamber music series. This is rather a serious drawback for a programme in which all four works are based to varying degrees on folk or pop elements, and rely primarily on melodic invention to sustain the listener’s interest.

Prokofiev’s usually prickly Overture on Hebrew Themes comes across as the proverbial wet kreplach in a performance seemingly devoid of accent or movement; any of the other chamber versions of this piece (Beroff/Masur on EMI, for example) will do, although my all-time favourite is orchestral: Vladar and Abbado with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (DG). The bouncing jazz of Copland’s scherzo haven’t a chance at this plodding tempo (try Michael Boriskin and friends on Arabesque’s Copland House chamber music collection for the requisite grit).

The Martin? and Schickele come

off slightly better, but overall this disc


is best heard as background music; for concentrated listening it’s simply too plain, Jane. Howard Goldstein