One of the most grown-up review sites around


Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


Shostakovich 4, 11 Nelsons
Transparent Granite!


Nothing but Praise


BrucKner 4 Nelsons
the finest of recent years.

superb BD-A sound

This is a wonderful set


Telemann continues to amaze


A superb disc

Performances to cherish

An extraordinary disc.

rush out and buy this

I favour above all the others

Frank Martin - Exemplary accounts

Asrael Symphony
A major addition


Another Bacewicz winner


match any I’ve heard


An outstanding centenary collection


personable, tuneful, approachable


a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.


music that will be new to most people


telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded


hitherto unrecorded Latvian music

 


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Sergey PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Symphony No. 7 in C sharp minor, Op. 131 (1952) [32:08]
Symphony No. 7 – finale (revised ending) [0:28]
The Love for Three Oranges – Suite, Op. 33bis: excerpts (1919) [4:09]
Lieutenant Kij – Suite, Op. 60 (1934) [18:54]
So Paulo Symphony Orchestra/Marin Alsop
rec. 2016, Sala So Paulo, Brazil
NAXOS 8.573620 [55:42]

This is the final release in Marin Alsop’s Prokofiev symphony cycle. I’ve heard almost all of the previous releases – only the Third symphony passed me by – and I’ve found much to admire in them.

I enjoyed Alsop’s reading of the Seventh Symphony. The often bitter-sweet, lyrical first movement is quite relaxed in her hands. That’s fine, but if you like a bit more weight in the music you may find that Kirill Karabits offers a bit more (review) and Andrew Litton more still (review). Actually, I think the respective recordings may have quite a bit to do with that. The Onyx recordings for Karabits is more forward than the Naxos sound and I think that suits the music better. The BIS recording for Litton has even more oomph to it and so, for example, the big tune that first appears at 1:53 in the Alsop performance has much more depth of tone under Litton. Incidentally, though BIS have issued the Litton as an SACD I listened to it as a CD for the purposes of these comparisons.

In the second movement Marin Alsop achieves a pleasing lilt in the waltz material. Prokofiev’s orchestral primary colours come out well. However, these colours are somewhat more vivid in the Karabits version, thanks in part to the more immediate recording, and his performance is no less winning than Alsop’s. The Brazilian account of the short slow movement is very nicely done: Alsop and her players make the music sound gently touching.

Ms Alsop makes the finale scamper along to fine effect and when Prokofiev relaxes the pace the performance is equally convincing. The expansive last two or three minutes are very well brought off. However, I got more out of listening to Karabits. For a start, those crucial harp glissandi in the quick music register much more tellingly – the instrument is more recessed in the Naxos recording. The greater immediacy of the Onyx sound adds fizz to Karabits’ excellent performance and his engineers present his account of the last few minutes with much more impressive depth of tone. The BIS engineers serve Andrew Litton even more impressively. His tempi tend to be a little steadier in the finale and his harpist’s glissandi really make their mark. Tellingly, there are some soft harp glissandi near the end and these register in an ideal fashion in the BIS soundscape – I failed to pick them out at all on the Naxos disc. In fact, sonically, the Litton recording is in a different league to the other two and his performnce of the entire symphony is very good too.

After the symphony’s premiere Prokofiev wrote a short alternative ending to the finale. This is a cheerful reprise of music heard at the start of the movement. I believe that the composer himself was pretty ambivalent about this alternative and I must say I don’t care for it. Here Marin Alsop plays the alternative ending in a separate track that lasts a mere 0:28. Karabits did exactly the same thing. I simply can’t see the point of this; it offers the worst of both worlds. If you don’t quickly stop the disc after playing the symphony you’ll get the gratuitous addition of a few extra bars wrenched out of context. On the other hand, how can you play the finale in its revised version, should you wish to do so? On a very generously filled disc Andrew Litton provides the ideal solution by offering the complete finale twice, once with each ending. There would have been plenty of room for Naxos to adopt a similar strategy given that their disc plays for less than 56 minutes.

Which brings me to the question of the fillers. Alsop offers us two movements from the Love for Three Oranges suite. What happened to the other four movements? There would have been ample space on the disc. There’s also an enjoyable account of the Lieutenant Kij suite.

In summary, the performance of the Seventh Symphony is a good one though not, I think, ‘best in show’. The fillers are ungenerous. The So Paulo Symphony plays well throughout the programme and Richard Whitehouse’s notes are useful

John Quinn

Previous review: Leslie Wright

 

 




Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount


Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger