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CD Review

Serge Prokofieff

Philips 432992

Symphonies

  • Symphony #1 "Classical" in D Major, Op. 25 (1917)
  • Symphony #3 "Fiery Angel" in C minor, Op. 44 (1928)
Philadelphia Orchestra/Ricardo Muti
Philips 432992-2 DDD 49:01
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Muti's carefully measured, reflective approach to Symphony 3 has a quiet intensity which can be quite effective at times – especially in the coda of I. The performance begins promisingly enough with a loud and vicious outburst, but quickly runs out of steam in the development section of I. Compared to Järvi's wild and orgiastic account or the violent contrasts and unrelenting energy of Walter Weller, Muti is hopelessly stiff and mechanical. In spite of the sumptuous Philadelphia strings, Muti's Classical Symphony is even worse – cold, humorless, and dull.

Don Vroon of the American Record Guide recommends Kitaenko for Symphony 3, but I find his interpretation quirky and the sound oddly artificial. Järvi's version is dramatically taut and brilliantly played, but Chandos' recording too often degenerates into a sonic mush. Weller offers clean and clear sound plus thrilling versions of both symphonies as a part of his sublime four-CD set – at less than double the cost of this release. Alas, the Weller appears to be temporarily out of print at this juncture.

Copyright © 1996, Tom Godell

Trumpet