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Erich Leinsdorf Conducts Prokofiev


Release Date: 08/07/2012 
Label:  Sony   Catalog #: 7809452   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  John BrowningErick FriedmanItzhak Perlman
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 6 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Reviews of some of the original recordings that make up this set:

Symphony no 3

"Prokofiev's Third Symphony is a reworking of material from his opera, The Fiery Angel. Depressed by his failure to get the opera staged, Prokofiev rightly thought the material too good to waste. The Symphony, first given by Pierre Monteux in Paris in May 1929, has many sections lifted straight from the opera, but mainly the material is re-developed and re-argued.

Stylistically the composer's manner is surprisingly close to what we have now come to regard as his Soviet style. Lumbering chords set the march rhythm going at the beginning, giving way quickly to a rich, heroic horn melody that a few
Read more years later would certainly have been taken to represent Soviet patriotism, rather than (as the opera-story suggests) mystic obsession. Obviously enough it appears later in richly contrasted orchestration—expansively on high 'Hollywood' violins in the recapitulation, and yet again in a final delicate version with celesta tinkling in the coda. The trouble with the movement is that the second theme is far too like the first, so that one easily gets them mixed up and Prokofiev himself combines them, leading one imperceptibly into the other in the coda. The end of the development brings a fine swaggering episode in Prokofiev's wrong-note military manner with a bouncing "oom-pah" bass. That, I gather, is taken direct from an interlude in Act 3 of the opera.


The whole of the second movement, a song-like Andante, is taken from an interlude in Act 5. Though it provides a suitable contrast with the rich, energetic first movement, it remains a mere interlude, as opposed to a slow movement which genuinely adds something to the symphonic pattern. The scherzo is based on music directly inspired by the finale of Chopin's Funeral March Sonata, the ghostly, keyless movement that to this day astonishes one with its adventurousness. Prokofiev's initial Chopin spark develops quickly towards the orchestral Debussy of La Mer and Fetes, colourful and imaginative, with a theme hinted at overhead by a prinking piccolo. That theme comes out finally into the open at the very end of the much truncated recapitulation, and in between there is an allegretto, steadily swinging along to three-in-a-bar.

[The] symphony gain[s] enormously from brilliant, atmospheric sound of Boston vintage. The performance [is] brilliant to match: I count this as one of the most successful records in Leinsdorf's Prokofiev series."

-- E.G., Gramophone [7/1967]

Symphony no 5

"Of Erich Leinsdorf and the Boston Symphony Orchestra's mid-'60s recordings of Prokofiev's symphonies, the first and the finest was this Fifth from 1964. In part because most of the orchestra already knew the work from its years under Koussevitzky and in part because Leinsdorf already knew the work as the heroic masterpiece it is, their Fifth together is strong and confident, from the immense Andante that opens it through the racing Allegro marcato, the mournful Adagio and the monumental Allegro giocoso that follow."

-- James Leonard, All Music Guide

Romeo and Juliet

The relationship between complete ballet scores and ballet suites drawn from them is always complicated, particularly when as in Romeo and Juliet the ballet suites are turned into quite separate works with the material rearranged. Prokofiev brought out the first two suites in pique against the refusal of the Bolshoi and the Kirov to stage the complete ballet. Since then Prokofiev's original judgement has been proved right, and it is the complete ballet rather than the concert suites that now hold public attention.

I am therefore glad that Leinsdorf has drawn this generous one-disc selection not from the suites but from the original ballet —seventeen numbers in all, presented in chronological order to give for once an idea of the development of the story. All the favourite material is included (particularly welcome is the extended version of the Classical Symphony Gavotte) and in this order the music is given much more dramatic point. Those who have not seen the ballet will obviously get a much clearer idea of each number's relevance.

Leinsdorf's way with Prokofiev is now well known. There is the characteristic Boston sheen on the sound, and a fine care for balance, and though Leinsdorf sometimes shies away from utter tenderness, the range of emotional expression is wider, I think, than in many previous Leinsdorf records. One could never call this a cold interpretation for Prokofiev's half-concealed emotional vein finds Leinsdorf in complete sympathy. The recording is among RCA's most brilliant.

-- E.G., Gramophone [9/1968]

Piano Concertos no 1 & 2

"Browning's [recording of the second concerto] is a brilliant performance, and unlike some of his American rivals he allows himself a degree of relaxation and poetry. This is specially important in the haunting first movement, which he and Leinsdorf manage particularly well. In the scherzo, which comes second in the four movement scheme, the fast speed brings brilliance in plenty, but there is a straightfaced quality in Browning's playing that can be more clearly appreciated in the Intermezzo third movement. Both Browning's qualities and his limitations come out if you compare his account of the First Concerto with that of Gary Graffman on the CBS disc (coupling the Third Concerto and Third Sonata) which I reviewed last month. Browning is more willing than Graffman to enjoy a slow speed and play with delicacy, but he lacks Graffman's biting incisiveness which makes him such a good Prokofiev interpreter...with clear, incisive performances from soloist and orchestra as well as first-rate recording quality, the RCA disc is an obvious choice for those who want the coupling."

-- E.G., gramophone [2/1967]

Violin Concerto no 1

"This Prokofiev Violin Concerto is an eminently desirable work of which to have a record; and it seems to me the most desirable performance of it to own. Erick Friedman has all the virtuosity, as one would expect from a protégé of Heifetz, plus plenty of lyrical warmth. He is superbly accompanied by Leinsdorf and the Boston orchestra and the recording and balance are first rate. Whenever there is figuration in the solo part, you can hear what is going on in the orchestra: and that is saying something of a concerto recording...superb."

-- T.H., Gramophone [1/1965]
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Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 2 in D minor, Op. 40 by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924-1925; Paris, France 
2. Symphony no 6 in E flat minor, Op. 111 by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945-1947; USSR 
3. Symphony no 3 in C minor, Op. 44 by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; Paris, France 
4. Symphony no 5 in B flat major, Op. 100 by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; USSR 
5. Concerto for Piano no 1 in D flat major, Op. 10 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  John Browning (Piano)
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911-1912; Russia 
6. Concerto for Piano no 3 in C major, Op. 26 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  John Browning (Piano)
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1917-1921; USA 
7. Concerto for Piano left hand no 4 in B flat major, Op. 53 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  John Browning (Piano)
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931; Paris, France 
8. Concerto for Piano no 5 in G major, Op. 55 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  John Browning (Piano)
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931-1932; Paris, France 
9. Concerto for Violin no 1 in D major, Op. 19 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Erick Friedman (Violin)
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1916-1917; Russia 
10. Concerto for Violin no 2 in G minor, Op. 63 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Itzhak Perlman (Violin)
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; Paris, France 
11. Lieutenant Kijé Suite, Op. 60 by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 04/22/1968 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 
Length: 19 Minutes 40 Secs. 
12. Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64: Act 1 - Introduction by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935-1936; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 02/13/1967 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 
Length: 2 Minutes 47 Secs. 
13. Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64: Act 1 - Juliet as a young girl by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935-1936; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 02/13/1967 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 
Length: 2 Minutes 54 Secs. 
14. Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64: Act 1 - Masks by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935-1936; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 02/13/1967 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 
Length: 2 Minutes 33 Secs. 
15. Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64: Act 1 - Dance of the Knights by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935-1936; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 02/13/1967 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 
Length: 2 Minutes 16 Secs. 
16. Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64: Act 1 - Departure of the Guests by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935-1936; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 02/13/1967 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 
Length: 3 Minutes 54 Secs. 
17. Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64: Act 1 - Romeo's Variation by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935-1936; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 02/13/1967 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 
Length: 1 Minutes 39 Secs. 
18. Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64: Act 1 - Love Dance by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935-1936; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 02/13/1967 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 
Length: 5 Minutes 56 Secs. 
19. Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64: Act 2 - Dance of the five couples by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935-1936; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 02/13/1967 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 
Length: 3 Minutes 54 Secs. 
20. Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64: Act 2 - The people continue to make merry by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935-1936; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 02/13/1967 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 
Length: 2 Minutes 9 Secs. 
21. Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64: Act 2 - Romeo decides to avenge Mercutio's death by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935-1936; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 02/13/1967 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 
Length: 2 Minutes 12 Secs. 
22. Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64: Act 2 - Finale by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935-1936; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 02/13/1967 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 
Length: 1 Minutes 50 Secs. 
23. Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64: Act 3 - Last Farewell by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935-1936; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 02/13/1967 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 
Length: 5 Minutes 19 Secs. 
24. Romeo and Juliet Suite no 3, Op. 101: no 5, Aubade by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; USSR 
Date of Recording: 02/13/1967 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 
Length: 2 Minutes 21 Secs. 
25. Romeo and Juliet Suite no 2, Op. 64b: Dance of the maids with lilies by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 02/13/1967 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 
Length: 1 Minutes 56 Secs. 
26. Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64: Act 3 - Introduction by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935-1936; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 02/13/1967 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 
Length: 1 Minutes 3 Secs. 
27. Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64: Act 4 - Juliet's Funeral by Sergei Prokofiev
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935-1936; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 02/13/1967 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 
Length: 9 Minutes 13 Secs. 
28. Concerto for Piano no 2 in G minor, Op. 16 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  John Browning (Piano)
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913/1923; USSR 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Fine Collection Well Priced April 27, 2014 By Charles W. (Austin, TX) See All My Reviews "This set is an excellent sampling of some of the great works by a Twentieth Century musical giant. This Leinsdorf Prokofiev set gives a cross section of some of Russian giant's greatest works in very fine performances beautifully re-mastered in Sony's 24bit process of what must have been fine original masters. It also present the great BSO in it's prime. While none of the performances might be considered definitive, all are excellent and some close to the best I am aware of (Sym. #5).I am not all that familiar with the symphonies 2 and 3, but they are brilliantly scored and intriguing works and appear to be very well played by a great orchestra. The Romeo and Juliet, again is excellently played and recorded, but might lack something in capturing some of the sardonic character and passion of the best. The piano and violin concerti again appear to be close to the best renditions of these works." Report Abuse
 Essential Prokofiev Well Done September 11, 2012 By E. Barnes (Dunn Loring, VA) See All My Reviews "You hear very little of Sergei Prokofiev's music on classical radio these days, and that's a real shame. The five piano concertos and the two violin concertos are cornerstones of their respective repertoires. The symphonies are, simply, downright awesome. I was able to purchase only one of the LPs when these recordings first came out (Piano Concertos 1 & 2), and at the time it was the finest performance of the music I had heard. These recordings should never have found their way into the relative obscurity they now enjoy. Boston's playing is incisive and Leinsdorf's tempos and phrasing are models of power and beauty. John Browning's traversal of the piano concertos I daresay paved the way for all modern traversals of this music, while Friedman's and Perlman's approaches to the violin concertos is inspiring. This is a set to cherish." Report Abuse
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