£16 post free World-wide

 


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


 


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

Search
What's New
Previous CDs
Concerts
Jazz
Nostalgia
Composers
Resources
Announce
Labels index


Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Some items
to consider


BRAHMS Complete Edition
58CD £95.22


Shostakovich 14 Petrenko


Rachmaninov #3
Prokofiev #2

 


Dunedin Consort

Peter Grimes

Hymn of Jesus: Sea Drift

Complete Mozart Edition
Mozart complete edition

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 5 & 8 £11

Weiner, Klepper, Bloch, Schulhoff £12 post free


Available again

REVIEW
RECORDING OF THE MONTH



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
CDAccord
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
 

alternatively
CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
The Year 1941, Op. 90 (Symphonic Suite) (1941) [15:01]
Symphony No 5 in B flat major, Op. 100 (1944) [44:47]
São Paulo Symphony Orchestra/Marin Alsop
rec. 26-31 August, 2011, Sala São Paulo, Brazil DDD
NAXOS 8.573029 [59:48]

Experience Classicsonline

The São Paulo Symphony Orchestra - Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo (OSESP) - was founded in 1954. Previous Principal Conductors have included John Neschling (1997-2008), with whom the orchestra made a number of well-received recordings, and Yan Pascal Tortelier (2009-2011). In 2011 the orchestra achieved something of a coup by appointing the high-profile American, Marin Alsop as principal conductor from March 2012, a post she will combine with her similar role at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The OSESP and Ms Alsop have chosen to inaugurate their relationship on CD with a cycle of Prokofiev symphonies, of which this is the first instalment. Collectors may also be interested to note that the orchestra’s website indicates that they will be also recording for Naxos a complete cycle of the Villa-Lobos symphonies under the Brazilian conductor, Isaac Karabtchevsky (volume 1 8.573043 (6 and 7) just issued). This Prokofiev CD is released to coincide with a European tour, which included a successful British debut at the BBC Proms (review). 

The Fifth, one of Prokofiev’s most important compositions, is a good place to begin such a cycle but if the Fifth is well known its companion on this CD most certainly isn’t. It’s intelligent programming not only to couple a familiar and an unfamiliar piece but also to place together two wartime works written at very different points in the Russian experience of World War II. In 1941 the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union had just begun - and Prokofiev had been evacuated to the relative safety of the Caucasus - but by the time he came to compose his Fifth symphony the tide of war had turned in favour of the Allies.
 
The Year 1941 was written between July and November of that year. It’s in three movements, ‘In the Struggle’, ‘In the Night’ and ‘For the Brotherhood of Man’. The work was not well received when it was first heard in 1943 and, apparently, it’s never been published. Naxos don’t claim this as a première recording but I doubt it’s been recorded - or played - very often; I’d never heard it before. I wouldn’t say it’s top-drawer Prokofiev but it’s worth hearing, especially the central section, much of which is in the composer’s lyrical vein.
 
Unlike The Year 1941 the Fifth Symphony was well received from the outset. One of its early champions was Serge Koussevitzky, who gave the US première of the piece in November 1945 and who made a very fine recording of it - perhaps the work’s first recording - for Victor in February the following year. Koussevitzky gave Prokofiev direct support - the Fourth symphony was one of the works commissioned for the Boston Symphony’s 50th anniversary in 1930 and he was later invited to conduct the orchestra. Prokofiev also benefited from the conductor’s more general support for Soviet composers during the war about which Michael Steinberg has related a charming story. Koussevitzky arranged for several shipments of manuscript paper to be sent from the USA to the Soviet Union. When he received the score of the Fifth to prepare for the US première he discovered that it had been written out on some of that very paper!
 
In a note in the booklet for the Koussevitzky recording Prokofiev is quoted as saying the following about the Fifth. “I wished to glorify man as free and happy, his mighty strength, his noble spirit. I would not say that I searched for this theme. It was born in me and required expression.” So, the symphony clearly was intended to express lofty ideals. I’d say that Marin Alsop’s performance pretty much measures up to the expectations that such a statement arouses.
 
In the first movement she brings out the power and the lyricism in Prokofiev’s writing. The playing she gets from the OSESP is very good; in particular the bass end of the orchestra is powerful, as it needs to be, without overpowering the textures. The extended climax near the end (11:07 - 12:47) is imposing; here, as elsewhere, the percussion section is well reported by the recording. The pithy, mobile scherzo is played with bite. The bridge passage to the trio is played more slowly that I can recall hearing - perhaps just a fraction too slowly - while the trio itself, which would not be out of place in Romeo and Juliet, is elegantly phrased. The malevolent, sneering return to the scherzo material is taken deliberately, as it should be, but once Alsop and her players get back to the scherzo it’s taken at a real lick. 

In his notes Keith Anderson says that the slow movement is “a movement of sustained lyricism, with a fiercely dramatic middle section”. Yes, it is lyrical but I think there’s also a darkness, even a feeling of tragedy, which harks back to the closing moments of Romeo and Juliet. In the central section (from 5:00 onwards) Alsop imparts the necessary gravitas as well as drama to the slow march, building it to a potent climax (7:20 - 7:50). After Prokofiev has returned to the material of the opening Alsop and her players deliver the gently luminous closing pages expertly. The generally high spirited finale, with its often brittle orchestration, is done with spirit and élan. There are plenty of good recordings of this important symphony in the catalogue but this newcomer ranks among the best I’ve heard.
 
The recordings were made in the orchestra’s home, the Sala São Paulo. This 1500-seater hall is, I believe, a converted railway station. The engineers have produced a very good recording with plenty of presence and clarity. The booklet notes are adequate. Marin Alsop’s Prokofiev cycle has been launched auspiciously and I look forward to future issues.
 
John Quinn
 
see also review by Leslie Wright

Masterwork Index: Prokofiev symphonies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools






Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.