Born in 1891 in Sontsovka, Ukraine, Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev is considered one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century. He was also an accomplished pianist and conductor. Like other great composers he mastered a wide range of musical genres, including symphonies, concerti, film music, operas, ballets, and program pieces. During his lifetime, his works were considered both ultra-modern and innovative. They are often violent, always lyrical and usually full of whimsical fantasy singularly reflecting the real world. In this set of complete symphonies, Rostropovich brings an intimate knowledge of both the composer and his works
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I never have understood the critical disdain for this set. Maybe conducting was Rostropovich's second career, or even third if you count his piano accompaniments for his wife. Nevertheless, he could be a very persuasive conductor. As I recall from a N.Y. Philharmonic concert in 1980, string players loved to play for him. They treated him as though he were Heifetz turned conductor, which in a sense he was. What's more, he was the last conductor to have a direct relationship with Prokofiev. Thus these readings have great authority. In No. 1, Rostropovich fashions a highly elegant, Russian sounding reading, on the slow side. His 2nd is highly convincing, showing a coherence rare in interpretations of this work. Of the two versions of No. 4, I prefer Rostropovich's account of the 1930 version, which holds together deftly. For the latter version and the 6th, I prefer Ormandy's LPs, which I don't think ever have been released on CD. Nevertheless, Rostropovich is very good here...
You might find other sets of Prokofiev's symphonies like Jarvi's for more money that might edge out this set, but for the money it really can't be beat. The French National Orchestra which is not world renowned is good because I believe Rostropovich is good. It is the Leopold Stokowski effect where Stokowski used to conduct many different orchestras, but always have that "sound." Anyone who is considering the Ozawa/Berlin PO version of Prokofiev symphonies should seriously consider this set to be superior in interpretation and almost a match in execution of the orchestral parts. Rostropovich's temperment in the symphonies is much more even and steady than Jarvi's. In a sense I am about to contradict myself by saying you wouldn't be sorry if this was the last set of Prokofiev symphonies that you've ever collected. I believe that it is that good. Therefore a five star recommendation.
Prokofiev 1891-1953 in his music attempted to free music from mystical and literary associations. His highly tuneful melodies do show irony. He left the Soviet Union in 1918 and returned in 1932 because he had no idea what was really going on in the country. He was naive politically, although Shostakovich wasnt. In 1948 Prokofiev was denounced by the Soviet central committee and he agreed he was not in touch with the people. But Prokofiev being sophisicated was unable to conform. He died in 1953 on the same day as Stalin.
Rostropovich conducts the Orchestra National of Paris as if conducting was his only profession. You would never know he had been and was a great Cellist. He brings out all the melodies in the symphonies as in in the 5th Symphony written in 1944, when the Germans were retreating from Russia. You would never know there was a war on..Some of the tunes seem as though they had come from a ballet. Prokofiev was one of the first to create a neoclassical...
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