Prokofiev: War and Peace Suite (arr. Christopher Palmer); Summer Night – Suite from The Duenna; Russian Overture

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COMPOSERS: Prokofiev
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: War and Peace Suite (arr. Christopher Palmer); Summer Night – Suite from The Duenna; Russian Overture
PERFORMER: The Philharmonia/Neeme Järvi
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9096 DDD
As Järvi once so piquantly put it in an interview, ‘a more melodic composer than Prokofiev I never heard’. Here is the ultimate testament to that facility. These are the lusciously scored, irregular melodies of Prokofiev’s years back in the USSR. Bitter-sweet nocturnes, played by the Philharmonia with an air of the purest enchantment, contrast with broad, unclichéd patriotic tunes. The finest of all is General Kutuzov’s hymn for love of Mother Russia which returns to crown the victory parade of War and Peace.

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After a rather piecemeal résumé of the opera’s final scene, Christopher Palmer’s adaptation takes the liberty of adding an organ to the proceedings. I think Prokofiev would have liked this, and had he lived to see a complete staging of War and Peace, he would certainly have fashioned a concert suite along similar lines thereafter.

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The sumptuous glow of the love music from the enchanting Sheridan-based opera Betrothal in a Monastery and the outrageous strutting of Järvi’s way with the Russian Overture receive the full Chandos treatment in St Jude’s, Hampstead: a final spectacular fling before the neighbours complained and Järvi’s army retreated to the less happy location of All Saint’s, Tooting. David Nice