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Myaskovsky • Prokofiev: Symphony No. 6 etc

Oslo Philharmonic/Vasily Petrenko (Lawo Classics)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Myaskovsky • Prokofiev
Myaskovsky: Symphony No. 27; Prokofiev: Symphony No. 6
Oslo Philharmonic/Vasily Petrenko
Lawo Classics LWC 1215   76:20 mins

Curiously, perhaps, it’s the interpretation of the less well-known and distinctive symphony which wins this disc its five stars. Vasily Petrenko’s latest pairing of works by two composers, born ten years apart but good friends from conservatory days, is especially telling. This is senior traditionalist Myaskovsky’s last major statement, completed shortly before his death in 1950, while Prokofiev’s Sixth is his most tragic and arguably most personal symphony (the poignant Seventh of 1952 may also lay claim to the latter quality). Although the bittersweet bucolics of Myaskovsky’s 27th could have been composed in the years leading up to the First World War by Glazunov or Elgar, there’s something touchingly sincere about them. Petrenko’s Oslo woodwind play the lonely solos beautifully, and the lyricism takes wing. Even the Rimsky-Korsakov miniature march which peps up the finale sounds good. This has to be the best recording to date.

The first movement tempos of the Prokofiev are controversial: sardonic opening goose-steps too fast, the first main liltingly sad themes too slow. To compensate, the hectic but brillianty articulated development works supremely well, and if what the composer is alleged to have called the horns’s ‘asthmatic wheezing’ after the climax is less pronounced than on other versions, the trombone snarls later make up for it. The Adagio’s Wagnerian breadth and the finale’s moto perpetuo which eventually peters are just perfect. Petrenko, like Andrew Litton on BIS, sticks to the final tempo for the ultimate catastrophe; I’d rather they took a note out of original interpreter Mravinsky’s slow-paced horror, surely definitive.

David Nice