Notes and Editorial Reviews
It's really amazing how different the Kirov Orchestra appears on recordings as opposed to its live performances. In concert, the orchestra impresses as a no-better-than-average ensemble, somewhat underpowered and merely adequate in all departments. On disc, with a little help from the microphones, the group often blossoms into an "echt" Russian band, with braying brass and crackling percussion, all underpinned by a dark, bass-heavy string sound. And so it goes here. I saw Gergiev perform an extremely unimpressive Scythian Suite live with this orchestra, and while even careful microphone placement can't improve on the negative impression made by his heavy and glitterless (comparatively speaking) opening movement, the rest comes off
as powerful and evocative indeed. So three cheers for technology!
On the other hand, Gergiev's brooding Alexander Nevsky is wholly successful and extremely enjoyable. The brass really snarl in "The Crusaders in Pskov" and the great "Battle on the Ice", while the chorus shouts and screams and generally has an aptly unsubtle blast in its variously loud roles as invading Germans and suffering (then victorious) Russians. No doubt Olga Borodina could sing her battlefield lament in her sleep, but happily she never sounds like she's actually doing that. Philips' engineers bring the orchestra up close but leave plenty of air around the voices, so that the general impression has an aptly cinematic vastness and depth.
There are other very fine Nevskys around, some generating an even higher voltage (Abbado's and Schippers' to name only two, the latter recently reissued by Sony in SACD multichannel format with amazingly improved sound), but there's no question that Gergiev manages the "authentic" Russian touch very well. Oddly enough, there never has been a great "Nevsky" recording from Russia; the work seems more popular (on disc at least) in the West. So if you're looking for this piece performed with flair by the home town team, you'll find plenty to enjoy here.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Alexander Nevsky, Op. 78 by Sergei Prokofiev
Olga Borodina (Soprano)
Kirov Theater Orchestra,
Kirov Theater Chorus
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1938/1939; USSR
Date of Recording: May 2002
Venue: Live Moscow Easter Festival, Russia
Length: 33 Minutes 42 Secs.
Scythian Suite, Op. 20 by Sergei Prokofiev
Kirov Theater Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1915; USSR
Date of Recording: July 2002
Venue: Martti Talvela Hall, Mikkeli, Finland
Length: 19 Minutes 20 Secs.
Scythian Suite, Op.20 - "Ala and Lolly": 1. Invocation to Veles and Ala
Scythian Suite, Op.20 - "Ala and Lolly": 2. The Evil God and Dance of the Pagan Monsters
Scythian Suite, Op.20 - "Ala and Lolly": 3. Night
Scythian Suite, Op.20 - "Ala and Lolly": 4. Lolly's Pursuit of the Evil God, and Sunrise
Alexander Nevsky, Op.78: 1. Russia under the Mongolian Yoke
Alexander Nevsky, Op.78: 2. Song about Alexander Nevsky
Alexander Nevsky, Op.78: 3. The Crusaders in Pskov
Alexander Nevsky, Op.78: 4. Arise, Ye Russian People
Alexander Nevsky, Op.78: 5. The Battle on Ice
Alexander Nevsky, Op.78: 6. Field of the Dead
Alexander Nevsky, Op.78: 7. Alexander's entry into Pskov
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