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Prokofiev: The Complete Symphonies / Järvi, Scottish National Orchestra


Release Date: 11/18/2008 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 10500   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 4 Hours 21 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Marvelous, charming, sweeping

Prokofiev’s seven Symphonies can be tough nuts to crack – at least numbers 2 to 6. That must be the reason why there are relatively few complete cycles of them available; eight, by my count: Walter Weller was first with the LPO and LSO (1974-78, Decca), behind the iron curtain Zdenèk Kosler recorded them with the Czech Philharmonic (1976-82, Supraphon). In 1985 Chandos issued Neeme Järvi’s set with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra which became an instant hit. A little later Rostropovich followed (French National Orchestra, 1985-87, Erato), then came Ozawa (Berlin Philharmonic, 89-92, DG - see review), then Theodore Kuchar (Ukrainian National Symphony Orchestra, 1994/95,
Read more Naxos), and finally Valery Gergiev with the only live recordings of the bunch (LSO, 2004, Philips - see review). Rozhdestvensky (Melodiya), Martinon (Vox), and Kitajenko (Melodiya) seem to have fallen by the wayside. Kitajenko has put down a new cycle (Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne, Phoenix Edition - see review) which, if it is as good as his Shostakovich cycle (Capriccio), will be a hot item.

The recent Gergiev cycle was much hailed; as a whole, I found it curiously unsatisfactory. Something doesn’t seem right, even if the grittier approach compared to Ozawa, certainly benefited Symphonies Three and Six, which are very fine. The sound is good, but not great, the playing very good, but not outstanding. Almost all the symphonies have great moments, but none an unbroken arch. The Seventh lacks pensive beauty. So far I preferred Kuchar’s Naxos cycle - I’ve not heard Rostropovich’s or Kosler’s - if it had to be a complete cycle at all.

But now Chandos has reissued its Järvi cycle in a complete box and the performances simply knock your socks off. The recorded sound is great, the Scottish National Orchestra plays like a world class band, and the symphonies don’t just have bite - or that pensive beauty as in the case of the marvelous, charming, sweeping Järvi Seventh - they are coherent and unified structures. Like Gergiev, Järvi includes the 1930 original version of the Fourth Symphony (concise, restrained) as well as the 1947 revised version (epic, sprawling-impressive), and both get first rate performances. Without resorting to exaggeration, Järvi gives the spiky works a beauty I’d never heard or even expected. At the same time, he doesn’t let a brutal work like the Third fall victim to harmlessness. There’s still blood on the floor when Järvi is finished with it, just not as much - and fewer crushed bones - than when Muti (Philips) goes through it. All in all, this is not only a set to complete your Prokofiev collection, it’s also the one to start it - if you haven’t yet.

-- Jens F. Laurson, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 1 in D major, Op. 25 "Classical" by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1916-1917; Russia 
2. Symphony no 4 in C major, Op. 112 by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; USSR 
3. Symphony no 3 in C minor, Op. 44 by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; Paris, France 
4. Symphony no 4 in C major, Op. 47 by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Paris, France 
Notes: Composition written: Paris, France (1929 - 1930). 
5. Symphony no 2 in D minor, Op. 40 by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924-1925; Paris, France 
6. Symphony no 6 in E flat minor, Op. 111 by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945-1947; USSR 
7. Symphony no 5 in B flat major, Op. 100 by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; USSR 
8. Symphony no 7 in C sharp minor, Op. 131 by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951-1952; USSR 

Featured Sound Samples

Symphony no 3: I. Moderato
Symphony no 4 (revised version): II. Andante tranquillo
Symphony no 7: IV. Vivace

Sound Samples

Symphony No. 1 in D major, Op. 25, "Classical": I. Allegro
Symphony No. 1 in D major, Op. 25, "Classical": II. Larghetto
Symphony No. 1 in D major, Op. 25, "Classical": III. Gavotte: Non troppo allegro
Symphony No. 1 in D major, Op. 25, "Classical": IV. Finale: Molto vivace
Symphony No. 4, Op. 112 (revised 1947 version): I. Adante - Allegro eroico - Allegretto
Symphony No. 4, Op. 112 (revised 1947 version): II. Adante tranquillo
Symphony No. 4, Op. 112 (revised 1947 version): III. Moderato, quasi allegretto
Symphony No. 4, Op. 112 (revised 1947 version): IV. Allegro risoluto
Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 44: I. Moderato
Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 44: II. Andante
Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 44: III. Allegro agitato
Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 44: IV. Andante mosso
Symphony No. 4 in C major, Op. 47 (original 1930 version): I. Andante assai - Allegro eroico
Symphony No. 4 in C major, Op. 47 (original 1930 version): II. Andante tranquillo
Symphony No. 4 in C major, Op. 47 (original 1930 version): III. Moderato, quasi allegretto
Symphony No. 4 in C major, Op. 47 (original 1930 version): IV. Allegro risoluto

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Impressive Performances March 31, 2013 By M. Bishop (Clackamas, OR) See All My Reviews "Neeme Jarvi and the Scottish National Orchestra do an impressive job of intepreting the symphonies of Prokofiev on this album. Especially noteworthy is the performance of the first symphony. I have one other rendition of the first symphony, and Jarvi and the Scottish National Orchestra do a good job of representing what Prokofiev intended in scoring this work. The playing by the orchestra and the quality of the recording is excellent. I highly recommend this album to those seeking a first-class representative sampling of Prokofiev's orchestral production." Report Abuse
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