Music and Vision homepage Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller

 

<<  -- 2 --  Bill Newman    PROUD DEFIANCE

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As usual Prokofiev maintains his musical flow, contrasting, dovetailing and placing his main emphases on the orchestral players to heighten the imagery of events - not always so easy when text and sequence offer disparate problems to the director, producer and performers in how to link up the different settings, character portrayals and substantially varied scene changes beset with challenges to all concerned. Sometimes the central figure of Natasha, a lady of wavering amorous fantasies and desires, is uncomfortably spotlit at the forefront of an orchestra complete with dramatic intentions. Some impetus is lost in the process and perhaps, under more ideal acoustic conditions a way of merging them together to provide finer balance overall for detailed colourings, harmonies, depth of response, would have given better realism in place of personages wandering willy nilly to the accompaniment of banging of feet and proscenium creakings.

But the atmosphere is there, more than compensated for by the excellent singing of Ekaterina Morozova as our heroine, Justin Lavender as Count Pyotr (Pierre) Bezukhov and Oleg Balashov as Prince Anatoly Kuragin. There is a nice sense of loving rivalry coupled with heroic pride for the lady's attentions, the musical dialogue kept constantly on the move without relaxing the inner tensions for the catastrophe to come. Alan Ewing's Kutuzov, almost an offspring of the great deeds and contained proud demeanour of similar roles in Glinka, Borodin and Tchaikovsky, is splendid. So too is his adversary Alan Opie - you can't help but notice him in all his appearances - as the headstrong Napoleon. I also like very much Pamela Helen Stephen as Sonya, Natasha's cousin, Tatania Odinokova as the Rostov's housekeeper Dunyasha and Victoria Livengood as Mariya Akhrosimova [listen - CD1 track 7, 1:24-2.24]. They each display leavenings of good taste and support in voices highly personalized to achieve rightness in their portrayals.

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Copyright © 16 September 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK

 

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