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NA 3056
PROKOFIEV: Symphony No. 5 / The Year 1941

PROKOFIEV: Symphony No. 5 / The Year 1941

The Classical Shop
release date: November 2011

Originally recorded in 1996

Artists:

Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra


Kuchar, Theodore


Theodore Kuchar

Conductor

Venue:

Concert Hall of Ukrainian Radio, Kiev



Record Label
Naxos

Genre:

Orchestral & Concertos


Classical

Total Time - 57:02
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PROKOFIEV: Symphony No. 5 / The Year 1941

 

SERGEY PROKOFIEV

Select Complete Single Disc for
     
 

Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, Op. 100

 
1 I. Andante 12:25
2 II. Allegro marcato 8:34
3 III. Adagio 10:58
4 IV. Allegro giocoso 9:35
     
 

The Year 1941, Op. 90

 
5 I. In the Struggle 4:55
6 II. In the Night 4:28
7 III. For the Brotherhood of Man 6:07
     
 Theodore Kuchar Conductor
 Kuchar, Theodore


As a composer Prokofiev was prolific. His operas include the remarkable The Fiery Angel, first performed in its entirety in Paris the year after his death, with ballet-scores in Russia for Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella. The last of his seven symphonies was completed in 1952, the year of his unfinished sixth piano concerto. His piano sonatas form an important addition to the repertoire, in addition to his songs and chamber music, film-scores and much else, some works overtly serving the purposes of the state. In style his music is often astringent in harmony, but with a characteristically Russian turn of melody and, whatever Shostakovich may have thought of it, a certain idiosyncratic gift for orchestration that gives his instrumental music a particular piquancy.

The fifth of Prokofiev’s seven symphonies was written in 1944, culminating, as he suggested, a long period in his creative life. The Fourth Symphony, which uses material from the ballet The Prodigal Son, had been completed in 1930. The new work, which bears some resemblance in thematic material to the Flute sonata of the previous year, is in four movements, grandiose and unified in conception. It is scored for the usual pairs of woodwind instruments, to which piccolo, cor anglais, piccolo clarinet and bass clarinet, with contra-bassoon, are added. There is a conventional bass section of three trumpets, four horns, three trombones and tuba and a percussion section that includes timpani, triangle, cymbals, wood-blocks, snare-drum, tambourine, bass drum and gong. Piano and harp are used and there is the usual string section. The first movement couples considerable strength with unexpected twists of melody that are highly characteristic of the composer. The strong principal theme is heard at once, entrusted to flutes and bassoons, before passing top the strings and swelling gradually in importance, with a second theme announced by flute and oboe. This grandiose opening to a symphony that has no extra-musical programme to it is followed by a scherzo that has an equally characteristic first melody played by the clarinet over a constant accompanying pattern provided initially by the first violins, material at one time intended for the ballet Romeo and Juliet. The trio section has a touch of that other condemned formalist Khachaturian about it, while the scherzo material returns in more sinister form, now a danse macabre. The Adagio is a movement of sustained lyricism, with a fiercely dramatic middle section, followed by a return to the opening serenity of the movement. The finale, with its initial tranquil reminiscence of the opening of the symphony in its introduction, proceeds to an overtly cheerful principal theme, ushered in by a viola accompaniment figure, with a more lyrical second subject. There is a strong Russian element, particularly in a new melody in the basses. The re-appearance of the principal thematic material brings the work to an ebullient and triumphant close.

Russia’s Great Patriotic War began with the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, at a time when Prokofiev had been considering again his projected opera on Tolstoy’s War and Peace. With other artists, including his friend Myaskovsky, he was evacuated to Nalchik in the Northern Caucasus. In July he started work on a symphonic suite The Year 1941 which he had completed by November. The work failed to please when it was first performed in 1943 in Moscow and was criticized also by Shostakovich, who found the material insufficiently developed, while official critics found that the music did not match the momentous events of the war. The Year 1941, which even Myaskovsky had not liked, was not published. Prokofiev later made use of some of the score for a film, Partisans in the Ukrainian Steppes.

"The real treasure here is...The Year 1941...The playing is stunning and the conducting inspired."

American Record Guide - October 1996
 


"This performance of the Fifth Symphony reeks with atmosphere; it has tremendous sweep and ardour... a must for Prokofiev collectors."

Fanfare




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