Prokofiev: Symphony No. 1 (Classical); Romeo and Juliet Suite No. 2; The Love for Three Oranges Suite

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Prokofiev
LABELS: RCA Red Seal
WORKS: Symphony No. 1 (Classical); Romeo and Juliet Suite No. 2; The Love for Three Oranges Suite
PERFORMER: St Petersburg PO/Yuri Temirkanov
CATALOGUE NO: 82876 50475 2
Temirkanov characteristically sticks to well-trodden repertoire – his other Prokofiev discs for RCA, of the cantata On Guard for Peace and the complete Nevsky film score were rare exceptions – but when he’s vindicated as one of the few truly great interpreters alive, who’s complaining? Heaven only knows why this surprisingly meaty miscellany has been sitting unused for over a decade; it can’t be that RCA worried about the one missing timpani stroke as the witch and the wizard slap down their cards in the Three Oranges Suite. The March, more hoochie-koochie than quaint court ceremony, is almost worth the cost of the disc alone. But Temirkanov also treats the love scene as seriously and broadly as its counterparts in the Romeo and Juliet Suite, where one longs for a complete performance – it would knock spots off the competition.

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The Classical Symphony was recorded, like Three Oranges, in St Petersburg’s Hall of Columns at a time when engineers used to let the acoustic speak for itself. You’ll need to boost the volume, but the reward is a very finely nuanced performance – over-articulated, perhaps, in the Gavotte, but there’s no finale more winning than this as the woodwind project their winsome homage to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Snow Maiden with disarming innocence. David Nice