The Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev was one of the giants of 20th century music. Reference Recordings is proud to present the Utah Symphony conducted by Thierry Fischer, in grand new performances of "Alexander Nevsky" and the "Lieutenant Kijé Suite", two of his most brilliant and dramatic musical works. The music of Lieutenant Kijé was originally written as the score to the film of the same name, released in March 1934. Prokofiev soon adapted it into the five-movement Lieutenant Kijé Suite, first performed in December 1934, and which quickly became a favorite in the international concert repertoire. Then, in 1938, Prokofiev collaborated with film director Eisenstein to create the score for the filmRead more Alexander Nevsky. He later adapted much of his score into the large-scale cantata for mezzo-soprano, orchestra and chorus featured on this recording.
The Lieutenant Kijé Suite's piquant opening movement, ‘Kijé’s Birth’, is notable for some nimble playing, especially from the Utah Symphony’s woodwinds. ‘Romance’ is nicely shaped and I liked the contributions of the tenor saxophonist. The cheeky music of ‘Kijé’s Wedding’ is nicely pointed and the tuba ‘oompahs’ add a suitably amusing touch. In the concluding ‘Kijé’s Funeral’ Prokofiev offers a kind of musical obituary by weaving in snippets from the four preceding movements. This is a very nicely done performance and I enjoyed it.
The Alexander Nevsky cantata is a vivid, theatrical score and in the right hands it certainly packs a punch. This new version from Thierry Fischer has a lot going for it, not least the vivid recorded sound.
The quality of the sound is immediately evident in ‘Russia under Mongolian Tyranny’ where the brooding atmosphere established by Fischer and his orchestra is emphasised by the wide-ranging recording. The sound has impact and genuine presence, offering a vivid aural picture of the orchestra. The Utah choirs make a strong showing in the delivery of their long phrases in ‘Song of Alexander Nevsky’. Things really get cracking in ‘The Crusade in Pskov’ where the oppressive dissonance of Prokofiev’s music is strongly projected by the orchestra, reinforced eventually by the choir. The recording has power and clarity, maximising the impact of the performance.
Alexander Nevsky, Op. 78by Sergei Prokofiev Performer:
Alisa Kolosova (Mezzo Soprano)
Utah Symphony Orchestra,
University of Utah Chamber Choir,
University of Utah A Cappella Choir
Period: 20th Century Written: 1938/1939; USSR
Lieutenant Kijé Suite, Op. 60by Sergei Prokofiev Conductor:
Utah Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1934; Paris, France