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Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Symphony No. 1 Op. 25 Classical (1917) [12.40]
Piano Concerto No. 1 in D flat major Op. 10 (1911) [13.38]
Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor Op. 16 (1912-13) [33.38]
Sviatoslav Richter (piano) (1)
Dagmar Baloghová (piano) (2)
Prague Symphony Orchestra/Karel Ančerl (2)
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Karel Ančerl (1)

rec. 1956, Domovina, Prague (Classical), 1953 (1), 1964 (2) Rudolfinum, Prague, . ADD
Karel Ančerl Gold Edition Vol. 10

SUPRAPHON SU3670-2 011 [60.14]

Ančerl's Prokofiev is grainy. He clearly prizes the abrasion and the tartness of the music. There is no evidence of a temptation to over-romanticise. His Classical is very much ‘on the wing’, raw-toned (a quality accentuated by the 1956 recording) and rebelliously alive with characterful woodwind contributions. The Larghetto is pretty four-square while the outer movements, both timed at 3.48, are taken at perilous speed with which the Czech Phil keep up showing joyous unanimity and astounding intonation. I wonder if Ančerl had been influenced by the fiery Golovanov. The sound is a mite fierce so this disc could not be a first recommendation. I remember a nice version of this symphony from Abbado on DG. From the same era Nikolai Malko's Classical is exceptional and allows a little more breathing space for the music not to mention its glorious coupling: the Prokofiev Seventh Symphony.

Of the five Prokofiev piano concertos we are here offered the first two. The First is played by Sviatoslav Richter (1915-1997). It is given a sweetly accented as well as adrenaline-pumping performance in which Ančerl is happy to collaborate. Listen to the lento at 6.35 onwards in this single movement work showing bravura in its eddying ascending drive (a little like the Foulds' Dynamic Triptych) and in its imaginative unpredictability. The Second is played by Dagmar Baloghová (b.1929). She handles well the pregnant tension and fey waywardness of the first movement and is just as impressive in the little Vivace. The Intermezzo is macabre and fantastic with some of the iron witchery of the First Violin Concerto. This music becomes increasingly modernistic with more than a predictive touch of Bartók in the air. It is somehow a surprise to find that both concertos predate the Classical Symphony.

Rob Barnett


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