This 2-channel Hybrid SACD is a live recording from 2009 of part of a large ‘Composer Festival’ featuring the music of Sergei Prokofiev. The Sydney Symphony Orchestra under its chief conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy perform the two most popular of the composer’s seven Symphonies, No. 1 in D ‘Classical’, and No. 5 in B Flat, one of his most powerful and melodic orchestral works.
The Russian conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy is internationally renowned for his interpretation of the piano and orchestral music of the composers of his native country. Sadly, due to arthritis in his fingers he has been able to play the piano less and less in recent years, and during this period he has taken the opportunity to focus his attention on his role as a conductor. He became Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the time of these performances.
Prokofiev’s First Symphony has come to be known as ‘The Classical’ because of the way that the style and form of the piece refers back to the music of Haydn and his contemporaries. The other symphony featured on the disc, the Fifth, is a work that Ashkenazy regards as one of the great creations of Prokofiev’s soviet years, a piece of music that he believes represents “the greatness of the human spirit”.
“Nothing kills a joke like having to spell it out, and Ashkenazy wisely lets Prokofiev's cod-Haydn material dispense its own punch lines. The Sydney SO delivers an unusually light-on-its-feet and polished account, with a special merit badge going to the lead flautist, who plays the famous finale with deadpan timing that's pure stand-up.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.