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Prokofiev: The Complete Symphonies


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Audio CD, May 16, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

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It should come as no surprise that Gergiev is in his element in Prokofiev's symphonies. Whatever his failings in other repertory, he's always had a knack for visceral excitement in Russian music, sometimes at the expense of lyric or lighter moments. And so it is here. Gergiev is a bit heavy-handed in the popular Classical Symphony, Prokofiev's homage to Haydn and Mozart. But he delivers high-octane power in the three steel-age symphonies that follow (the set is especially notable for the inclusion of both versions of the Fourth). The popular Fifth is done with passion, as is the neglected and underrated Sixth. Most surprising is the Seventh, an outwardly amiable piece with a sometimes-sardonic subtext, which Gergiev delivers in a natural, well-balanced interpretation. The London Symphony is a big part of the set's success. It's one of the world's great orchestras, here captured live in concert, and far superior to Gergiev's home band, the Kirov Orchestra. Along with fine ensemble playing, the LSO scores in making Prokofiev's important wind writing and solos crisply vivid. Rivals include outstanding individual recordings like Ancerl's Fifth, Malko's First and Seventh, and Kuchar's budget set on Naxos, but this convenient, well-performed box set is a heavyweight contender. --Dan Davis

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Disc 1:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. Prokofiev: Symphony No.1 in D, Op.25 "Classical Symphony" - 1. AllegroValery Gergiev 4:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Prokofiev: Symphony No.1 in D, Op.25 "Classical Symphony" - 2. LarghettoValery Gergiev 4:17$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Prokofiev: Symphony No.1 in D, Op.25 "Classical Symphony" - 3. Gavotta (Non troppo allegro)Valery Gergiev 1:33$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Prokofiev: Symphony No.1 in D, Op.25 "Classical Symphony" - 4. Finale (Vivace)Valery Gergiev 3:39$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Prokofiev: Symphony No.4 in C, Op.112 - Revised version - 1. Andante - Allegro eroicoValery Gergiev11:42Album Only
listen  6. Prokofiev: Symphony No.4 in C, Op.112 - Revised version - 2. Andante tranquilloValery Gergiev 9:14$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Prokofiev: Symphony No.4 in C, Op.112 - Revised version - 3. Moderato, quasi allegrettoValery Gergiev 5:43$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Prokofiev: Symphony No.4 in C, Op.112 - Revised version - 4. Allegro risoluto - Andantino - Allegro come primaValery Gergiev 9:49$0.99  Buy MP3 


Disc 2:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. Prokofiev: Symphony No.2 in D minor, Op.40 - 1. Allegro ben articolatoValery Gergiev11:31Album Only
listen  2. Prokofiev: Symphony No.2 in D minor, Op.40 - 2. Theme and VariationsValery Gergiev23:01Album Only
listen  3. Prokofiev: Symphony No.3 in C minor, Op.44 - 1. ModeratoValery Gergiev11:31Album Only
listen  4. Prokofiev: Symphony No.3 in C minor, Op.44 - 2. AndanteValery Gergiev 6:11$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Prokofiev: Symphony No.3 in C minor, Op.44 - 3. Allegro agitatoValery Gergiev 7:55$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Prokofiev: Symphony No.3 in C minor, Op.44 - 4. Andante mossoValery Gergiev 6:08$0.99  Buy MP3 


Disc 3:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. Prokofiev: Symphony No.4 in C, Op.47 - 1. Andante - Allegro eroicoValery Gergiev 5:42$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Prokofiev: Symphony No.4 in C, Op.47 - 2. Andante tranquiloValery Gergiev 6:30$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Prokofiev: Symphony No.4 in C, Op.47 - 3. Moderato risoluto, quasi allegrettoValery Gergiev 4:02$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Prokofiev: Symphony No.4 in C, Op.47 - 4. Allegro risoluto-Andantino-Allegro-Moderato briosoValery Gergiev 6:34$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Prokofiev: Symphony No.5 in B flat, Op.100 - 1. AndanteValery Gergiev12:30Album Only
listen  6. Prokofiev: Symphony No.5 in B flat, Op.100 - 2. Allegro marcatoValery Gergiev 8:14$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Prokofiev: Symphony No.5 in B flat, Op.100 - 3. AdagioValery Gergiev11:42Album Only
listen  8. Prokofiev: Symphony No.5 in B flat, Op.100 - 4. Allegro giocosoValery Gergiev 9:08$0.99  Buy MP3 


Disc 4:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. Prokofiev: Symphony No.6 in E flat, Op.111 - 1. Allegro moderatoValery Gergiev14:55Album Only
listen  2. Prokofiev: Symphony No.6 in E flat, Op.111 - 2. LargoValery Gergiev14:22Album Only
listen  3. Prokofiev: Symphony No.6 in E flat, Op.111 - 3. VivaceValery Gergiev11:03Album Only
listen  4. Prokofiev: Symphony No.7, Op.131 - 1. ModeratoValery Gergiev 9:52$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Prokofiev: Symphony No.7, Op.131 - 2. AllegrettoValery Gergiev 7:34$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Prokofiev: Symphony No.7, Op.131 - 3. Andante espressivoValery Gergiev 5:49$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Prokofiev: Symphony No.7, Op.131 - 4. VivaceValery Gergiev 8:32$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Valery Gergiev
  • Composer: S. Prokofiev
  • Audio CD (May 16, 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Label: Philips
  • ASIN: B000F5GJM8
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,887 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 52 people found the following review helpful By David A. Wend on May 31, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I ordered this set after I heard an excerpt from Gramophone's sampler disc of the Fifth Symphony; the performances were everything that I would have hoped for. Valery Gergiev clearly has a love of Prokofiev's music and has had long experience conducting the operas

The First Symphony is beautifully played with the Finale played with a slightly faster tempo than I am accustomed to that even more brings out the exuberance of the music. The original and revised versions of the Fourth Symphony are included, and the revised version follows the First which makes an interesting contrast. I had not heard the revised Fourth for some years and it was very nice to have it again. The Symphony, based on the ballet The Prodigal Son, received its revision around the time Prokofiev wrote his Sixth Symphony and so there is music more reminiscent of his later orchestral writing mixed with the ballet music from the 1920's. The slow movement is played with particular beauty by the LSO and the third movement is played lightly with playful shading. The symphony is brought to an exciting close with the trumpet coda the composer added as a nod to Stalin.

The Second Symphony is the least performed and is noted for its heavy counterpoint and sounds as if describing some industrial complex as found in Fritz Lang's Metropolis. The symphony is in two movements with the second being theme and variations. Valery Gergiev is in his element here and his recording surpasses the one by Neeme Jarvi in clarity of performance. The Third Symphony benefits from Maestro Gergiev's performances of The Fiery Angel from which the music is drawn. The symphony has a "raw" sound that gives it more drive than found in a performance of the opera.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Larry VanDeSande VINE VOICE on January 31, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I decided to buy Gergiev's intergral set of Prokofiev symphonies after seeing no less than 5 critics from Gramophone magazine recommend it either as a gift for themselves or someone else in that magazine's December issue. I have learned the English listen to, and respond to, classical music differently than Americans; I have also learned that any production receiving such a widespread rave has a lot going for it.

After listening repeatedly to these symphonies, I was consistently torn as to giving this set 4 stars or 3.5 stars. There clearly is a significant enough shortcoming in this set -- the inadequate performance of Symphony No. 6 -- to keep this from receiving top recommendation. I decided it was worth 4 stars because of the multitude of other good things going on inside this set.

The good things begin immediately with the Gergiev-LSO collaboartion of the Symphony No. 1 "Classical". I read someone that disliked this performance because it was too stodgy. I cannot attest to such a viewpoint; I believe the performance is a good one, perhaps not as good as Ormandy's rapid fire address on the old Sony CD, but lively throughout and performed in keeping with the classical spirit of the thing.

You learn first in this symphony that this set will be characterized by fine playing from the London Symphony Orchestra and oustanding recording technology that brings extra life to timpani and low brass, something that gives the LSO a darker, almost Russian, sound.

Perhaps my favorite and, ironically, most curious performances are those of the Symphonies 2, 3 and original version of 4. Never before had I understood the common threads that run through 2, 3 and the opening movement of 4 until I heard them under Gergiev's baton.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Santa Fe Listener HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 3, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Ordinarily most listeners--and conductors outside Russia--limit themselves to the First and Fifth Symphonies of Prokofiev, branching out perhaps to the Sixth and Seventh. It's gratifying, then, that Philips gives us a complete cycle so that other works can emerge from the shadows. The harsh Machine Age modernism of the Second and Third adds to our view of Prokofiev as a dissonant modernist, and the overlooked Fourth, a lyrical pastiche that could be called a suite as much as a symphony, is lovely and easy to listen to (neither the 1930 nor 1947 version strikes me immediately as superior to the other, but the composer altered and expanded the original so much that he considered naming the revision Sym. #7). In general Gergiev tries to give this music more depth, countering Prokofiev's reputation for flash over substance.

Gergiev is flexible and free in his phrasing, rarely giving us the thrusting, muscular Soviet readings so common in Prokofiev. His 'Classical' Sym. begins a bit slow and serious where most conductors try to be fizzy and carefree (he makes up for it in the whirling finale). In the Fifth he also finds more seriousness, less of the usual orchestral romp. The ferocious climax ending the first movement packs a wallop, however, thanks to Philips' dynamic sonics. The Sixth and Fourth are decidedly melancholy at times, although the deliberate barbarisms in the Second aren't shied away from. I only wish that he had paid attention to Mravinsky's bracing, acerbic way with the Sixth, a potentially dramatic work that Gergiev somewhat underplays.

Gergiev's cycle, besides being excellent in its own right, fills a hole in the catalog, in that previous cycles by Ozawa (too tame) and Jarvi (underwhelming orchestra, brash conducting) were disappointing.
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