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Prokofiev: Symphonies 3 & 4

5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 28, 1992
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That these symphonies are not more famous than they are simply amazes me. Prokofiev understood the nature of symphonic writing, and after the dainty cuteness of Symphony 1, he was ready to make his own mark. The Symphony 3 (1929) begins with a brash sense of alarm, then becomes quieter, more operatic in nature. And the composer's weird clashing harmonies are throughout the piece. Two versions of the Symphony 4 (1940) exist. This is the original version, which is shorter than the latter 1940 version. Neeme Järvi and the SNO have recorded the entire series for Chandos, and these are the ones to have. --Paul Cook.
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
1
30
14:32
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2
30
7:05
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3
30
8:02
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4
30
6:25
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5
30
6:31
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6
30
5:54
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7
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4:11
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8
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6:32
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Scottish National Orchestra
  • Conductor: Neeme Jarvi
  • Composer: Sergey Prokofiev
  • Audio CD (October 28, 1992)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B000000ADC
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #227,821 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By John on January 17, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Both of the symphonies on this disc are based on material from other works. The 3rd uses material from Prokofiev's opera 'The Fiery Angel' (which is, in my opinion, one of his most outstanding works), and the 4th is constructed of unused material from his ballet 'The Prodigal Son'. If you enjoy either of these works, you will enjoy these symphonies. That being said, if you've never heard the ballet or the opera these are two incredible (and underrated) symphonies that can more than hold their own. Jarvi shows off his true talent for conducting Prokofiev, bringing unsurpassed lyricism to the slow movements, and chaotic, yet clear intensity to the terrifyingly sinister dissonances of the 3rd. The Scottish National Orchestra is an extremely capable partner. The sound is crisp and clear and very loud. If you're a fan of Prokofiev, 20th century music or great symphonies I strongly urge you to purchase this disc.
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Format: Audio CD
Seriously, if you have never heard Symphony #3, you must purchase this disk. Stravinsky idolized Tchaikovsky's immense lyricism. When Prokofiev is at his best, the result is a chimera of the two (to me, the piece Le Baiser de la Fee that Stravinsky finished for Tchaikovsky sounds like Prokofiev). Symphony 3 is probably the best example of Prokofiev's immense genius in fusing these disparate elements. The first movement is centered around a dark, hypnotic circular theme that bursts out like an explosion at the start of the piece, fading rapidly into a more assuring subtheme which is quickly dismissed by quivering strings and then a long descent into madness which is capped in an outrageous conclusion to the first movement, followed by one of the most hauntingly beautiful second movements in all music.
As was noted elsewhere, Prokofiev poached this music from his opera 'The Fiery Angel' when, after 10 years, he was unable to get it staged. The opera is about a woman who keeps having visions and she can't tell if they are an angel or the devil. The music lives up to this lofty billing, alternately mixing the beatific and the infernal, until it ends in a mad, farcical romp. On the very short list of works you can't live without...
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Format: Audio CD
Prokofiev's third is definitely his most ferocious - this is music of intense, frenzied power and urgent and blood-curdling drama, but combined with music of almost otherworldly, angelic and mysterious beauty. It is based on music from his (superb) opera The Fiery Angel set into a formal framework the composer had already thought out in advance. It is a truly splendid work; not only is the thematic material magnificent (after all, the opera is a masterpiece), it is also fabulously put together into something that works almost surprisingly well as a symphonic whole.

Järvi and the Scottish National Orchestra are simply scintillating, playing with almost infernal, feverish fervor and blistering power - just listen to the march theme of the first movement; I cannot imagine it being rendered more effective than here. But they are equally wonderful in the searching, elegiac mystery of the softer parts. Now, I still think Järvi's cycle is the best Prokofiev symphony cycle in the catalogue (although he is outperformed by others in some individual works, such as Ancerl in no.1 and Karajan in no.5), and the third is one of the most obvious instances where he simply blows Gergiev's more recent account out of the water - while certainly dramatically paced, Gergiev just lacks the ferocity and urgency of this performance (it also affects Gergiev's performance of the opera, but here the quality of the singers to a large extent makes up for it).

Järvi's is also the first choice in the fourth, here given in its original version (the later version is coupled with no.1).
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Format: Audio CD
Neeme Jarvi's grasp of Prokofiev's music is astounding. This CD is one of a collection on Chandos of all of Prokofiev's symphonies. First the recoding quality is Chandos which is second to none and worth every penny. Secondly both Orchestra and conducter are committed to this biting saterical sometimes brutal and sometimes gloriously beautiful work. The smashing opening bars propel you into a dark and somber world. The ending is even more shattering. In between is vintage melodic Prokofiev. Get this. Get them all if they are Chandos and Neeme Jarvi....
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