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PROUD DEFIANCE

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'... a marvellous sense of immediacy ...'

BILL NEWMAN discusses a new recording
of Prokofiev's 'War and Peace'

 

Prokofiev - War and Peace. Copyright (c) 2000 Chandos Records Ltd.

The press are full of the Kirov's production and Valery Gergiev's conducting of Prokofiev's epic opera War and Peace, as part of their London season - I hope to review the earlier Philips recording in due course - but Chandos Records' Spoleto Festival recording taken from a live relay of the 1999 performance under the direction of Richard Hickox, has a marvellous sense of immediacy in its projection of main characters - 64 in all spread here over 27 singers - coupled with the forces of the Russian State Symphonic Capella, Chorus Master Valeri Polyansky together with the fine players of the Spoleto Festival Orchestra. Claims that their recording is spaced over 4 CDs compared with Philips' 3 are made easier for the consumer by a saving of - you've guessed it! - 4 for the price of 3, but I can imagine that Prokofiev fans will wish to possess both versions.

The older Melodiya recording of the 1970s under Melik-Pashaev available on BMG/RCA - until now the yardstick for future recordings - still has obvious musical virtues, but recording standards have so advanced since then resulting in far better pin-pointing of singers, choral forces and an orchestra required to encompass the changing scenes of houses, gardens and a study belonging to various members of the Russian aristocracy, a ball in St. Petersburg, the Battle of Borodino, peasants' quarters and a raging snowstorm on The Smolensk Road. Prokofiev may have been selective in his choice of scenes from Tolstoy's masterly, very lengthy novel, but you can imagine the consternations and problems enlarging the original 10 scenes to 13, and the constant attempts to monumentalize Katuzov, Prince-Commander of the Russian forces who saves his country from invasion by Napoleon, as some kind of pre-period Stalin.

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Copyright © 16 September 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK

 

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CD INFORMATION - CHANDOS CHAN 9855(4)

PURCHASE THIS DISC FROM AMAZON

PURCHASE THIS DISC FROM CROTCHET

MENOTTI AT SPOLETO

 

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