Notes and Editorial Reviews
We know the drill: Järvi made too many records (who didn’t in the 1980s and ’90s?), his conducting was sometimes sloppy, his tempos recklessly fast–and all of this was true, to a degree. But set against this his excitement, his willingness to let the orchestra play full-out, his rip-roaring climaxes, and his genuine brilliance in the works he knew well and loved. Remember, before Chandos (and BIS) got hold of him he was already a seasoned veteran with a huge and varied repertoire, and his willingness to go to bat for unusual repertoire, and to do it so well, can only be deemed admirable.
All of this is a long way of saying that his Prokofiev is, for the most part, outstanding,
nowhere more so than in the Fifth, a symphony that ought to be easy to pull off owing to its colorful orchestration and melodic abundance, but that seldom seems to inspire conductors and orchestras to do their very best. One notable exception was Karajan, who “Berlinified” the work to thrilling effect for Deutsche Grammophon. This is another one of the great recordings, if only because the piece plays to Järvi’s strengths when faced with music that is grand, splashy, and cinematic. Compare the climax of the first movement in this performance to the theoretically more disciplined and discerning Szell, and you will hear the difference between an authentic assault on the music and a generic, unidiomatic musical precision.
Aside from the generally swift tempos and thrilling climaxes in the first and third movements, Järvi has the orchestra singularly well-drilled in the scherzo and finale, and if the ensemble isn’t robotically precise, well, it’s never slovenly, and there’s a real sense of danger and risk-taking in this performance. It adds expressive depth to the experience, aided by the excellent sonics. The coupling, half of Prokofiev’s Waltz Suite, isn’t the most compelling (why not include the whole thing?), but it’s the symphony that counts, and this is its modern reference recording.
-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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