PERFORMER: Cologne WDR SO/Michail Jurowski
CATALOGUE NO: 999 610-2
The difference between this and Michail Jurowski’s last Prokofiev issue on CPO is simple. That was a crucial release of The Tale of the Stone Flower, Prokofiev’s final ballet score – a vividly engineered North German Radio project standing alone in the catalogue after the deletion of Russian Disc’s Rozhdestvensky recording. Now Jurowski has turned to a ballet which already has interpretations of supreme tonal beauty (Previn on EMI) and vivid character (Rozhdestvensky on BMG Melodiya). In moving from Hanover to Cologne, moreover, Jurowski has not been best served by inferior studio sound and an indifferent orchestra. Prokofiev’s spare, astringent moments of magic, their woodwind solos and shimmering strings so luminously lit in the Previn recording, fall flat in dry acoustics; and the emphasis on shrill piccolo and overblown bass drum masks the remarkable parts for groaning lower brass as the dwarfs leap out of the monster, midnight-striking clock.
Jurowski at least knows how to inflect the livelier numbers. The angular lines of the court dances work well in this context, both waltzes glide and billow, and a lively sense of movement just about papers over the halting inspiration and repetitions of the last act. He and either of his German orchestras will be welcome back if they can revert to unknown Prokofiev – namely several of the theatre projects from the mid-Thirties, still essential discography. David Nice