What a great cycle of the Prokofiev symphonies. It is considered a classic, yet it still seems underrated somehow; is it because the name Walter Weller (Austrian conductor, spend most of his years in England) is not quite familiar to some audiences? I think so. There isn't much that needs to be said about Prokofiev's symphonies - clearly most visitors here already cherish them (not *everyone* is keen on all seven, but I sure am!!) and know them well. All that really needs to be said, then, is satisfied by my first sentence. These are some of the best interpretations around. A pleasant bonus it is to get the Scythian Suite and The Love for Three Oranges included here as well.
Here's a review for the hell of it, from ArkivMusic:
Among 20th-century composers, Sergei Prokofiev has probably fared best when you consider the number of his works that are held in public affection -- Peter and the Wolf, the Lieutenant Kijé Suite with its sleigh ride 'Troika'(this motif from the suite was also used in the song I Believe in Father Christmas by the English rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer), The Love for Three Oranges, and the ballets Romeo and Juliet (who doesn't know the 'Dance of the Knights'?) and Cinderella. His opera War and Peace is a staple of the opera repertoire. Also firm favourites are the witty, deliberately Haydnesque First and Fifth Symphonies, both welcomed into the symphonic repertoire of the 20th century in a way only matched by Sibelius, and in the UK Vaughan Williams, in their popularity. The other five symphonies, however, remain relatively neglected. This highly acclaimed cycle conducted by Walter Weller was only the second recording of the elusive revised version of No.4. The greatest of the cycle, No.6 receives an extraordinary performance. It is a work full of huge, truly memorable tunes -- epic, lyrical and highly personal. The 'Classical' Symphony, No.1, predates Stravinsky's neo-Classical period, and is all the more remarkable for that. The iconoclastic Second symphony is very much of its time, being contemporaneous with The Iron Foundry by Mosolov, Stravinky's Rite of Spring and Honegger's Pacific 231. Schoenberg commented that there is still 'plenty to be said in C major', and this certainly applies to the seven symphonies of Prokofiev.
Further information (the recordings were reissued in 1992 and in 2009 as well)
- Superb Decca recordings from the late 1970s. Critically acclaimed when first released, they are still state of the art.
- 'This newcomer is by far the best recorded. It is every bit as impressive as earlier releases in the Weller/Prokofiev series. The LPO respond to the demands made on them with fine musicianship and good ensemble.' Gramophone on the Fourth Symphony
- 'This new Decca release is absolutely first-class and reveals this densely packed texture with realism and great transparency. Weller is sensitive to detail and dynamic nuance.' Gramophone on the Second Symphony
- 'unfailingly crisp and refined ensemble and with recording quality that reveals every strand in the score with richness and clarity.' Gramophone on the Fifth Symphony.
(You will) Enjoy,