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Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Romeo And Juliet (excerpts) - Suites No. 1 (Op. 64A), No. 2 (Op. 101) [34:41]
Symphony No. 1, Op. 25 Classical [12:30]
Symphonic Suite, Op. 60 Lieutenant Kijé [22:03]
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Yuri Simonov
rec. March 1996, C.T.S. Studios, London. DDD
Full tracklist at end of review
ALTO ALC 1258 [71:44]

Alto have cornered the market in the re-animation of Tring and RPO CDs of the mid-1990s. This one was previously available as RPO Records 204496-201 and it still has a lot going for it.
 
The Romeo and Juliet movements are played with sturdy neon-lit brilliance. There’s plenty of vehemence in Simonov’s thunderous iron-shod way with Montagues and Capulets. The RPO, who have done similar über-Russian things with conductor Yuri Temirkanov, play magnificently for Simonov who indulges portentous and heavy brocade in the Roerich and Bakst Bolshoi tradition. He relishes the ticking Khachaturian-Spartacus echoes in Minuet and throughout encourages pawky character from the woodwind principals. The Death of Tybalt is carried off with tragedy- suffused deliberation. Here is Whitman’s “the great convulsive drum” personified. He adds devastating symphonic gravitas to Romeo at Juliet’s Grave bringing back memories of a similarly impressive - even overbearing - performance at the 1982 Proms when Muti conducted the visiting Philadelphia Orchestra.
 
The Classical Symphony is done with explosive delicacy and both recording and treatment make this far from small in scale. It’s a little over-warm and excessively urgent in the second movement. The finale is swimmingly speedy while the Gavotte is overly deliberate. It’s good if you want this Symphony with more passion. I have always had an affection for the Malko version on CFP but the sound here is so much greener. A raucous knockabout Kijé full of misrule in the manner of The Love of Three Oranges brings this disc to a highly coloured close. 

There’s nothing quotidian here though some may find it all a shade too much; not me. Simonov is well worth following: try his Stravinsky ballets on Regis and a reportedly exceptional Mahler 1. Also very good is his Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 2, Francesca and Manfred

Liner notes are by James Murray who, as usual, hits the spot.  

Rob Barnett 


Masterwork Index: Prokofiev Symphony 1


 
Track-list
 
Romeo And Juliet (excerpts) - Suites No. 1 (Opus 64A), No. 2 (Opus 101)
1 Montagues and Capulets [5:32]
2 The Child Juliet [4:08]
3 Friar Lawrence [2:42]
4 Morning Dance [2:24]
5 Minuet [3:25]
6 Masks [2:08]
7 Death of Tybalt [5:41]
8 Dance [2:04]
9 Romeo at the Grave of Juliet [6:37]
Symphony No. 1, Op. 25 'Classical'
10 Allegro [4:26]
11 Larghetto [4:24]
12 Gavotta, Non Troppo Allegro [1:50]
13 Finale Molto Vivace [1:50]
Symphonic Suite, Op. 60 'Lieutenant Kijé'
14 Birth of Kijé [4:34]
15 Romance [5:09]
16 Wedding of Kijé [3:04]
17 Troika [3:02]
18 Burial of Kijé [6:14]