Prokofiev: Symphony No.5; lieutenant Kijé Suite

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Prokofiev
LABELS: Telarc
ALBUM TITLE: Prokofiev
WORKS: Symphony No.5; lieutenant Kijé Suite
PERFORMER: Cincinnati SO/Paavo Jarvi.
CATALOGUE NO: CD – 80683

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Many American orchestras have cut a swathe through Prokofiev’s most brazen Soviet Symphony, with the Cleveland under Szell and Bernstein’s New York Phil at the top of the list, but the Cincinnatians here don’t quite match them. Certainly the bucolic opening is nicely introspective, mindful of the journey it will have to travel before it acquires a tougher physiognomy, and Paavo Jarvi’s finest moment comes in the Adagio, slower and more inward than his father Neeme’s otherwise vivd performance with the SNO on Chandos. But the obstacles of the war machine in the first movement and the sarcasms of the scherzo need to bite deeper, as they do in Jurowski’s more incisive recent account (reviewed in January). Jarvi is almost as good on detail – the bass clarinet in the scherzo and the louring tuba lines are striking throughout, while the violins come through loud and clear in what is usually the welter of the finale’s monstrous final coda – if only the recording had allowed the kind of epic space around the sound we find in Tilson Thomas’s LSO reading (sony). With the latter currently unavailable , Tennestedt on Profil Hanssler makes a surprisingly weight benchmark. Kijé is framed by ideally cool, perfectly distanced cornet solos. Again, the more reflective numbers come off best, but the performance could do with more of Abbado’s Chicago brightness.