Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Cinderella, Op. 87 (Complete Ballet).
West German Radio Symphony Orchestra, Cologne/Michail Jurowski.
CPO 999 610-2 [2 discs] [DDD]
Prokofiev's Cinderella (1944) has never gained the same level of
popularity as Romeo and Juliet. A great shame: this set affirms the
greatness of this score and nobody will feel short-changed by it, despite
the relatively low playing time. There is a sense of Prokofiev unbuttoning
his compositional waistcoat and revelling in the opportunities this most
touching of children's stories affords.
Cinderella comes very much out of the tradition of Classical ballet. Its
long succession of individual movements is well characterised by Jurowski's
Cologne forces, who display fleetness-of-foot in their nimble articulation
(The Sisters Dress for the Ball) and delicacy (The Summer Fairy,
for example). They also show a penchant for the grander gesture (the final,
indulgent Waltz). Importantly, Jurowski responds well to Prokofiev's wicked
sense of fun: The Four Friends of the Prince will raise a smile, as
will Prokofiev's self-quotation of the March from The Love for Three
Oranges in the movement entitled Fruits and Refreshing Drinks.
The longest movement, the Grand Waltz inspires the orchestra to the
heights of gracefulness. The performance as a whole is well realised
(notwithstanding some hints of strain in the upper strings). The excellent
programme notes and synopsis with track numbers prove the ideal complement
to the discs.
Competition is stiff, coming principally in the forms of Ashkenazy and the
Cleveland Orchestra (Decca
162-2), Previn and the LSO (a classic account affordably on
68604-2) [£11.50] and finally the Russian National
Orchestra under Pletnev (coupled with Summer Night, Op. 123 on DG
830-2). Jurowski does not displace either Previn or Ashkenazy (my preferred
choices), but rather sits well alongside them on the shelf.
Recommended: and for all year round listening, too!