Prokofiev: The Stone Flower

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Prokofiev
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: The Stone Flower
PERFORMER: BBC Philharmonic/Gianandrea Noseda
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 10058(2)
A third complete recording of Prokofiev’s last ballet, no neglected masterpiece, looked superfluous in principle, and hardly the easiest way for Gianandrea Noseda to shine in his Chandos debut (as he so evidently did in a more conductor-friendly Prokofiev work, the Fifth Symphony, on BBC Music Magazine’s April cover disc). The subtle, shapely hand of the BBC Philharmonic’s new principal conductor nevertheless enriches the main characterisations of this eastern Russian extravaganza. The icily trumpeting Mistress of the Copper Mountain, keeper of the ultimate artistic raw materials in the shape of the stone flower, vividly dominates the quieter strains of the mortals eventually involved in her cavernous kingdom; but Noseda phrases Prokofiev’s blander themes with surprising dignity and makes sure the multiple reprises never insist too much.

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Sometimes one longs for the blatant panache of Rozhdestvensky (BMG Melodiya), especially in the waltz of the precious stones and the Third Act’s fairground tziganery, but that’s a performance best sampled in small doses. This is one to savour, with the warmly resonant recording proving a good long-term companion (though the long breaks between self-contained numbers work against continuity).

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Clearly Chandos should be consistently looking to Noseda in Manchester rather than Polyansky in Moscow to finish off the excellent Prokofiev work begun by Järvi in the Eighties. David Nice