Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor; Cinderella Suite No. 1; Cinderella Suite No. 3 (excerpts)

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COMPOSERS: Prokofiev
LABELS: Berlin Classics
WORKS: Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor; Cinderella Suite No. 1; Cinderella Suite No. 3 (excerpts)
PERFORMER: Mira Wang (violin); Saarbrücken RSO/Thierry Fischer
CATALOGUE NO: 0017632 BC
With a less than charismatic violinist in the solo seat, and an orchestra of strong personalities among the woodwind and brass, Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto makes uncommonly interesting listening as a selectively scored sinfonia concertante. But that’s not the point. For all the interest we may find here in the barbed horn and trumpet tuckets that lie gaping, monster-like, across its path, and the duetting role for first clarinet in the slow movement, the violin role needs to run the full gamut as it treads on hot coals. Mira Wang is no match for a master story-teller like Nikolaj Znaider (RCA); she begins commandingly rather than furtively, and even in the lonely song of the Andante shows little lyric individuality. The best that one can say is that she’s well tuned to the exemplary characterisations of Thierry Fischer and his Saarbrücken players; between them, and aided by excellent recorded balance, they project a suitably intense dance-of-death finale.

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Still, one longs for the full orchestra to come to the fore. It does so fitfully in a selection from the first and third Cinderella Suites lacking the incandescent ‘Fairy Godmother’ movement and the spiky quarrel (at under an hour’s running time, there should have been room for these and more). Fischer gauges his heroine’s longing for happiness to perfection, finds an ideal spring for the ballroom Mazurka and once again gives his woodwind soloists free rein, this time to project the angularities of the ugly sisters. We shall be hearing much more from him. David Nice