ALBUM TITLE: Prokofiev, Shchedrin
WORKS: Prokofiev: Cello Concertino; Symphony No.1 (classical); Cinq Mélodies (arr. Shchedrin & Prokofiev)
Shchedrin: Parabola Concertante
PERFORMER: Rafael Wallfisch (cello), Southbank Sinfonia/Simon Over
CATALOGUE NO: NI 5816
In 1920 Prokofiev orchestrated the second of his Cinq mélodies for voice and piano. Raphael Wallfisch has hit on the happy idea of inviting Rodion Shchedrin to complete the set, basing his instrumentation on the style of Prokofiev’s original. The result is highly attractive, Shchedrin’s imaginative textures providing a suitably atmospheric backcloth to Wallfisch’s expressive cello line. The performance is slightly under‑characterised in places – the Third Mélodie surprisingly ignoring the composer’s animato marking, and the Fourth could perhaps project even greater humour. Prokofiev’s Concertino, performed in the arrangement by Vladimir Blok, suffers from similar drawbacks particularly in the finale where the grotesque element in this unassuming music seems to be understated. Yet elsewhere Wallfisch plays the work with great affection, and the orchestral contribution is very sensitive. Both soloist and orchestra seem to pull out all the stops for Shchedrin’s Parabola Concertante. It’s an effective one-movement work inspired by a short story The Enchanted Wanderer by Nikolai Leskov in which at its most intense moments the cello and timpani engage in an exciting musical dialogue. The potential attractiveness of this clearly engineered release is somewhat undermined by the inclusion of the ubiquitous Classical Symphony. This would not have mattered had the performance really sparkled in the manner of Claudio Abbado and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (DG), but Simon Over and the Southbank Sinfonia deliver a routine read-through.