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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Petrushka (1911, rev 1947) [34.05]
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Peter and the Wolf (1936) [23.16]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)
The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (1946) [17.47]
Eric Shilling (speaker), Prokofiev, Britten
Czech PO/Karel Ančerl
rec Dvořák Hall, House of Artists, Prague, 26-28, 30 March 1962 stereo (Petrushka); 26 Oct 1960, 1, 6, 11 Feb 1963 mono (Prokofiev); 3-5 Mar 1958, 7 Feb 1963 mono (Britten) AAD
SUPRAPHON 11 1945-2 001 [75.25]
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This is a companion to the other Ančerl/Supraphon I have reviewed of late. While the other drew on Russian concert favourites this disc draws together classics of the last century; two of which are with speaker. Those two are designed for children with the Britten a didactic piece; the Prokofiev an entertaining fable shot through with moral currents.

The 1962 Petrushka is in stereo while the other tracks are mono. Ančerl's is a specially good Petrushka with crackling energy, split-second precision from the Czech orchestra and a far from faceless characterisation. The Czech PO's first trumpet is much better in this than in their recording of Pictures at an Exhibition. This player is a Dennis Brain of the trumpet section - listen to him at 3.03 in track 3.

Ančerl surprised me from one point of view. His interpretation brought to the surface far more of the Rimskian fantasy than I had noticed previously. Also the linkages backwards and forwards in time with Le Sacre and The Firebird are laid bare.

The other two pieces are charmingly done, evidently produced by adding the Shilling track, three or four years after the music tracks were made. Shilling, speaking in the early sixties, is less mannered than Sargent in the Beulah recording of the Britten. The playing in both works is high-spirited with Ančerl reminding us of Romeo and Juliet, a work contemporary with Peter and the Wolf. Regrettably each work is allotted only a single track.

Outstandingly good notes from Supraphon though, sadly, nothing about Eric Shilling. 

A cracking stereo Petrushka lacking only in richness of recorded sound. The charming Prokofiev and Britten pieces are recorded in mono.

Rob Barnett

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