Prokofiev: Symphony No. 1 (Classical); Symphony No. 5

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COMPOSERS: Prokofiev
LABELS: Sony Classical
WORKS: Symphony No. 1 (Classical); Symphony No. 5
PERFORMER: LSO/Michael Tilson Thomas
Prokofiev’s Fifth is often held to be the more triumphant of his two war symphonies. Michael Tilson Thomas thinks otherwise. His slow, dark first movement certainly feels strange – not the usual swift public statement that has to wait for its caricature in the Scherzo. But it is after all what the composer’s initial marking suggests. As the movement arms itself, Tilson Thomas may take breadth to the limits, but every blistering dissonance has its due and there’s no doubt where the real, climactic terrors lie.


The LSO’s execution of this phenomenal score is more than equal to its conductor’s concept. Months of preparation and performances yield well-moulded lines in scything unisons – trumpet and strings especially. The carnivorous romps of Scherzo and finale send a physical shock through the system.


The Classical Symphony is here, too, very nimble, given such forces, but it is the other large-scale Prokofiev symphonies that this team definitely has to look at next. David Nice