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Prokofiev: War And Peace Suite, Etc / Jarvi, Philharmonia Orchestra


Release Date: 08/25/2009 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 10538   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Here is a very well-planned record of less familiar but vintage orchestral Prokofiev that provides a highly stimulating appendix to the symphonic, concertante and balletic repertoire by this composer. If you have been lucky enough to see the opera War and Peace (perhaps on television), you will know what an out-and-out masterpiece it is, ranking alongside Romeo and Juliet in consistent inspiration, and in its ambitious, epic scale perhaps even finer than that wonderful ballet score. Like Britten's Peter Grimes it has some splendid orchestral interludes to extract, and this suite has been selected skilfully and arranged by Christopher Palmer. (Prokofiev heard a concert performance of the opera in 1944 but never saw the opera staged complete Read more in his final conception.) "Peace" is represented by "The Ball" sequence, with its "Fanfare", "Polonaise", "Waltz" and "Mazurka" (very much in the joyfully lyrical Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin tradition, though with touches of Prokofievian irony); this section ends with a ravishingly delicate Intermezzo, "May Night", a moonlit scene on the Rostov country estate. "War" is represented by the finale from scene 13 of the opera, which begins with a ferocious orchestral snowstorm as the French retreat from Moscow (Prokofiev visualized "devils and Baba-Yagas whirling about the air, screaming, whistling and howling"); then in the "Battle" sequence the soldiers are remorselessly harried by Russian partisans. "Victory" brings a triumphant panoply of exultant melody, notably the great theme associated with Marshall Kutuzov who masterminded the Russian victory.

The suite Summer night was arranged (in 1950) by the composer and is drawn from his opera The Duenna (based on Sheridan's play). This music is essentially more lightweight and has much in common with the ballet scores. The second movement, a romantic "Serenade", and the delightfully fragile "Dreams" are the highlights. The Russian Overture dates from 1936, but is heard here in a more compact scoring for a smaller orchestra of a year later. It is an extended piece, more like a symphonic poem, marrying lyrical elements with typical grotesquerie, well spiced with dissonance. It is perhaps not top-grade Prokofiev, but it is entertaining enough and it has a pervading energy, well caught by Jarvi, who is thoroughly at home in all this music.

The Philharmonia play throughout the programme with plenty of bite and flair and obviously revel in the more atmospheric sections of the music; the recording, sumptuous and brilliant, uses the acoustics of St Jude's, Hampstead, to spectacular effect with characteristic Chandos aplomb. Recommended.

-- I.M., Gramophone [3/1993] Review of original release, Chandos 9096
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Works on This Recording

1.
War and Peace, Op. 91: Suite by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943/1952; USSR 
Date of Recording: 03/02/1991 
Venue:  St Jude's Church, Central Square, London 
Length: 26 Minutes 59 Secs. 
2.
Duenna: Summer Night, Op. 123 by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950; USSR 
Date of Recording: 11/15/1991 
Venue:  St Jude's Church, Central Square, London 
Length: 22 Minutes 20 Secs. 
3.
Russian Overture, Op. 72 by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936-1937; USSR 
Date of Recording: 11/15/1991 
Venue:  St Jude's Church, Central Square, London 
Length: 14 Minutes 7 Secs. 

Sound Samples

War and Peace Symphonic Suite (arr. C. Palmer): I. The Ball: i) Fanfare and Polonaise: Maestoso e brioso
War and Peace Symphonic Suite (arr. C. Palmer): I. The Ball: ii) Waltz: Allegro, ma non troppo
War and Peace Symphonic Suite (arr. C. Palmer): I. The Ball: iii) Mazurka: Animato
War and Peace Symphonic Suite (arr. C. Palmer): II. Intermezzo - May Night: Andante assai
War and Peace Symphonic Suite (arr. C. Palmer): III. Finale: i) Snowstorm: Tempestoso
War and Peace Symphonic Suite (arr. C. Palmer): III. Finale: ii) Battle: Allegro
War and Peace Symphonic Suite (arr. C. Palmer): III. Finale: iii) Victory: Allegro fastoso - Andante maestoso
Summer Night, Op. 123: I. Introduction: Moderato, ma con brio - Tempo primo
Summer Night, Op. 123: II. Serenade: Adagio
Summer Night, Op. 123: III. Minuet: Allegro ma non troppo
Summer Night, Op. 123: IV. Dreams: Andante tranquillo
Summer Night, Op. 123: V. Dance: Allegretto
Russian Overture, Op. 72

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