Prokofiev: Alexander Nevsky (film score)

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Prokofiev
LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Alexander Nevsky (film score)
PERFORMER: Evgenia Gorohovskaya (mezzo-soprano); Various choirs; St Petersburg PO/ Yuri Temirkanov
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 61926 2 DDD
Yuri Temirkanov has been synchronising the score with the film of Alexander Nevsky in the concert hall for some years now. The combination of opulent live forces and the big screen is obviously a special case; but given the poor sound quality of the original Prokofiev-supervised soundtrack and the opportunities offered by engineering today, it made some sense for BMG/RCA to reissue the film on video with fresh, selectively re-scored orchestral and choral support. The virtues of the CD, however, are debatable.

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Certainly it’s a first, but Prokofiev left very little out when he re-cast most of the score as the familiar concert cantata favoured by all rival recordings. The gains of the original are a few unfamiliar ideas in the midst of a much longer battle and a percussion-only thrash as the ice begins to break (quite different from the cantata’s climax, which now provides most of the new opening sequence). Otherwise there are too many stop-start repetitions – not true of the cantata’s clever symphonic stitching; and the battle-music has inevitable breaks in continuity (on-screen noises fill the gap). If the interest remains mostly academic, the performance is anything but. Full and rich on both choral and orchestral fronts, this is the first all-Russian Nevsky since Svetlanov’s blistering 1968 account. Only Gorohovskaya suffers – undercut both by her minimalised film-score role and by her recessed place in an otherwise vivid canvas. David Nice