Prokofiev – The Decca Masters
Sir Adrian Boult; Jean Martinon; Eric Tuxen; Nikolai Malko
Label
Decca
Catalogue No.
4840357
Barcode
00028948403578
Format
2-CD
About

A kaleidoscopic collection of orchestral Prokofiev in the 1950s, as recorded by Decca engineers in London, Paris and Copenhagen, featuring both rarities and classics.

Once upon a time Peter and the Wolf was the best known of them, with six recordings to its credit in the days before LP. On this Kingsway Hall recording from 1949, the BBC announcer Frank Phillips told the story, with the experienced Prokofiev conductor Nikolai Malko making a rare appearance on Decca. Nowadays the Fifth Symphony is far more frequently heard in concert; this taut and thrilling 1952 account is the work of the Danish conductor Erik Tuxen, a legendary interpreter of Sibelius and his fellow countryman Nielsen.

Three years later in June 1955, Sir Adrian Boult made his first stereo recording, of the Love for Three Oranges Suite with the Paris Conservatoire Orchestra. This was originally issued in mono with the Lieutenant Kijé Suite played by the Philharmonia Orchestra because the latter recording was mono only – whereas the present reissue now presents Oranges in its stereo version. Boult’s dry wit points up the sardonic qualities of both suites.

Despite its title, Russian Overture from 1936 does not straightforwardly conform to principles of Soviet nationalism in music with its abrupt cuts from comic capers to sweeping Russian melody. Written like so much of Prokofiev’s music with tongue in cheek, it makes an apt companion on disc for his final symphony, the Seventh. These were recorded in November 1957 (and originally issued on the RCA ‘Living Stereo’ label) by the Paris Conservatoire Orchestra conducted by Jean Martinon, who had done much to promote the conductor’s music outside his Russian homeland. The Seventh is a deceptively simple work, imbued with a melancholy and nostalgia somewhat obscured by the ‘fake’ ending contrived to the symphony for it to win official approval (and which is played here).

Track Listing / Artists

SERGEI PROKOFIEV (1891–1953)

CD 1
1 Peter and the Wolf, Op. 67*
Frank Phillips, narrator
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Nicolai Malko

2–5 Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, Op. 100
Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Eric Tuxen

CD 2
1–5 Lieutenant Kijé – Symphonic Suite, Op. 60
Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris
Sir Adrian Boult

6–11 The Love for Three Oranges – Symphonic Suite, Op. 33bis
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Adrian Boult

12 Russian Overture, Op. 72
13–16 Symphony No. 7, Op. 131

Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris
Jean Martinon

*FIRST CD RELEASE ON DECCA

Track previews
The Love for Three Oranges, Symphonic Suite, Op. 33bis: 5. The Prince and the Princess
The Love for Three Oranges, Symphonic Suite, Op. 33bis: 6. The Escape
Russian Overture, Op. 72
Symphony No. 7 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: 1. Moderato
Symphony No. 7 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: 2. Allegretto
Symphony No. 7 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: 3. Andante espressivo
Symphony No. 7 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131: 4. Vivace
Symphony No. 5 in B-Flat Major, Op. 100: 2. Allegro marcato
Symphony No. 5 in B-Flat Major, Op. 100: 3. Adagio
Symphony No. 5 in B-Flat Major, Op. 100: 4. Allegro giocoso
Lieutenant Kijé, Symphonic Suite, Op. 60: 1. Naissance de Kijé
Lieutenant Kijé, Symphonic Suite, Op. 60: 2. Romance
Lieutenant Kijé, Symphonic Suite, Op. 60: 3. Noces de Kijé
Lieutenant Kijé, Symphonic Suite, Op. 60: 4. Troïka
Lieutenant Kijé, Symphonic Suite, Op. 60: 5. Enterrement de Kijé
The Love for Three Oranges, Symphonic Suite, Op. 33bis: 1. The Ridiculous People
The Love for Three Oranges, Symphonic Suite, Op. 33bis: 2. Infernal Scene
The Love for Three Oranges, Symphonic Suite, Op. 33bis: 3. March
The Love for Three Oranges, Symphonic Suite, Op. 33bis: 4. Scherzo
Peter and the Wolf, Op. 67
Symphony No. 5 in B-Flat Major, Op. 100: 1. Andante
Recording information

Recording Producers: John Culshaw (Peter and the Wolf); James Walker (The Love for Three Oranges, Lieutenant Kijé); Michael Williamson (Symphony No. 7, Russian Overture); unknown (Symphony No. 5);
Balance Engineers: unknown (Peter and the Wolf, Symphony No. 5); Kenneth Wilkinson (The Love for Three Oranges); Kenneth Wilkinson, Roy Wallace (Lieutenant Kijé); Kenneth Wilkinson, Ken Cress (Symphony No. 7, Russian Overture)
Recording Locations: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 6 December 1949 (Peter and the Wolf); 27–29 June 1955 (The Love for Three Oranges); La Maison de la Mutualité, Paris, France, 9 June 1955 (Lieutenant Kijé), 29, 30 October & 2 November 1957 (Symphony No. 7, Russian Overture); Danish Radio Concert Hall, Copenhagen, Denmark, 9 October 1952 (Symphony No. 5)
Remastering Engineer: Chris Bernauer
Original Decca Releases: AX 356–58 (Peter and the Wolf – 78rpm: January 1951) / LX 3003 (Peter and the Wolf – LP: June 1950); LXT 5119 (The Love for Three Oranges, Lieutenant Kijé: March 1956); ECS 619 (Symphony No. 7, Russian Overture: September 1971; originally issued on RCA LM 2288 / LSC 2288: May 1959); LXT 2764 (Symphony No. 5: January 1953)

Reviews

‘Extremely well recorded.’ The Record Guide, 1955 (Symphony No.5)

‘A thoroughly desirable disc.’ EMG Monthly Newsletter, May 1956 (Lieutenant Kijé)

‘The Danish orchestra are on the top of their form… technically it is faultless… the issue may be counted a great success.’ Gramophone, March 1963 (Symphony No.5)

‘Among the wittiest, most pointed, and most elegantly recorded performances in the entire Prokofiev discography.’ High Fidelity, June 1956 (The Love for Three Oranges)

‘It is his composer’s ear that makes his performances of Prokofiev so dazzling… The orchestra possesses an almost chamber-like sound, but this does not prevent Martinon from drawing from it warm, passionate readings; it’s a remarkable combination.’ Gramophone, December 2003 (Symphony No.7)