Prokofiev/Saint-Saens/Britten

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Prokofiev/Saint-Saens/Britten
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Peter and the Wolf
PERFORMER: Phillip Schofield (narrator);Toulouse Capitole Orchestra/Michel PlassonJohn Ogdon & Brenda Lucas (pianos); CBSO/Louis FrémauxRoyal Liverpool PO/Charles Groves
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 7 54730 2 DDD/ADD
Only last year there were two new recordings of Peter and the Wolf : Willie Rushton on EMI (LPO/Siân Edwards) and Sting on DG (COE/Abbado). EMI has now added Phillip Schofield to its roster of narrators and he is not exactly ‘Going Live’ with this popular work by Prokofiev. The Toulouse Capitole Orchestra, conducted by Michel Plasson, recorded the music at the Halle aux Grains in January, and Schofield recorded the narration at Abbey Road in August. These conditions seem to have created a performance which lacks integration and spontaneity. Schofield’s delivery is pleasant and friendly but he does not have the vocal versatility and scope to lift the story from the page and turn it into Prokofiev’s characterful fantasy. The orchestral episodes are well shaped and the instrumental solos are good, but it is a singularly lacklustre affair.

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The two other works on this disc are reissues which have been digitally remastered. There is a spirited and brilliantly executed performance of Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals, and a sturdy performance of Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. These recordings were made in 1971 and 1977 and are not otherwise currently available. Elisse McDougall