Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:

Cinderella, Op. 87 (Complete Ballet).
West German Radio Symphony Orchestra, Cologne/Michail Jurowski.
CPO 999 610-2 [2 discs] [DDD] [116'18]

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 410 162-2), Previn and the LSO (a classic account affordably on CZS5 68604-2)  [£11.50] and finally the Russian National Orchestra under Pletnev (coupled with Summer Night, Op. 123 on DG 445 830-2). 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!


Colin Clarke

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