Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Sergey Prokofiev, Andre Previn, Christine Cairns|
Prokofiev: Alexander Nevsky; Lieutenant Kije
Genres: Soundtracks, Classical
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Prokofiev, Previn, And The L.A. Philharmonic
Erik North | San Gabriel, CA USA | 11/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Two of Sergei Prokofiev's best-known compositions of the 1930s were his massive score for the Sergei Eisenstein epic "Alexander Nevsky", and his smaller one for the ironic bureaucratic satire "Lieutenant Kije." Despite both being originally produced as essentially pro-Soviet tracts to please the Russian politburo, particularly that sage of stern political correctness Joseph Stalin, both works ("Nevsky" in its cantata form) have maintained their populairty. And both of these works are given world-class performances in this 1986 recording by Andre Previn and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
The Alexander Nevsky Cantata (which is all most people heard of Prokofiev's score until the last few years) is smashingly sung by the Los Angeles Master Chorale along with Scottish-born mezzo-soprano Christine Cairns. And Previn, whose time as music director was just too short, conducts the L.A. Philharmonic brilliantly in the cantata and the Lieutenant Kije Suite, particularly in its celebrated "Troika" movement (whose main theme was borrowed by Greg Lake for his 1975 Christmas standard "I Believe In Father Christmas"). It's not surprising that Previn should be so successful here; he is no stranger to Prokofiev's music, having recorded both pieces with the London Symphony Orchestra in the 1970s. A highly recommended recording for lovers of 20th century Russian music in general and Prokofiev in particular."
An Ebullient Pair of Performances that Still Rank with the F
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 12/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"André Previn knows his way around these two very fine Prokofiev works, each being extracted from film scores yet from very different mindsets of the composer. 'Alexander Nevsky' was first supported by Stalin when it was written/filmed (perhaps explaining why the score is less 'modern' than most of Prokofiev's works), then withdrawn as inappropriate while WW II was brewing and finally returning as a national anthem when the Germans invaded Russia in 1941. It is that kind of a work - much Russian soul in the choral writing and much warring effort in the orchestral portions.
Previn conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale with Christine Cairns as the important soloist in this 1986 recording. The chorus may not have the dark depth of the Russian choruses on the many other recordings, but they make up for it in technique and commitment to the score where others blast their way through it. It is a very moving account of the 'cantata'.
The lighter, comic side of Prokofiev is present in his 'Lieutenant Kijé' suite, also a film score. Previn takes his time to highlight the many solo instances that add to the fine writing that makes this Prokofiev work a perennial favorite among audiences of all ages. The orchestral sound is polished and rich and the recording is well engineered. This is a fine recording of two disparate Prokofiev pieces to add to the collection. Grady Harp, December 06"
Russian film music
Brett A. Kniess | Madison, WI | 11/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Featured on this disk are two offerings from Sergei Prokofiev's jaunt into Russian film music. Most are familiar with Prokofiev's descriptive music for the stage, but these well-known film-based scores are a welcome addition to his dramatic genre.
Alexander Nevsky was a hero in the 1200's who defeated the Swedish army and later won out against a large army of Germans. A film was made by Sergei Eisenstein as propaganda for an impending conflict between Russia and Germany, and Prokofiev became the composer of the music. After Russia and Germany settled their affairs, Prokofiev wrote a cantata from the film music for the concert stage. The work begins with a slow (cold & icy) introduction leading into the Russians singing about Nevsky's win over Sweden. The scene continues to the German invaders singing/chanting in Latin as they pillage. The fourth movement is a call of arms for Russia with a cheerful and imaginative folk-like hymn. The Battle on the Ice is the crux of the work, overlapping the German's latin theme with the Russian theme. Prokofiev also graphically depicts the approaching armies musically, all of which erupts in joyous celebration at the victory. Following the battle is a heartfelt alto solo of a peasant woman looking for the man (or men) she was engaged to marry. Of course, the whole work ends in a rousing Russian chorale. The music is varied and imaginative, also seemingly steeped in the Russian folk idiom when the music calls for it. A dramatic and historically interesting work.
The suite from the film Lieutenant Kije, however, is much lighter fare. Prokofiev's great ability to write tuneful melodies exists in all movements. Lt. Kije's life is explained through the movements (Birth, romance, wedding, Troika, and burial). The orchestration is light with occasional sweeping breadth, featuring the tenor saxophone, a sultry sound in the work. The music is lively and engaging, a light masterpiece (the 70's rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer liked it so much they borrowed much of the music.)
This early digital recording by the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Andre Previn from 1987 still stands up today. The orchestra is light and beefy when it is required and the chorus in Nevsky is convincingly Russian. Previn tells each of these musical stories successfully and the music speaks well. Lt. Kije is standard orchestral repertoire and Alexander Nevsky should be, so this disk is an easy choice (although you will have to compare on your own to the Abbado on DG and Gergiev on Philips)."