This disk brings together two compositions closely linked to 20th-century ballet music. They are also close from a chronological point of view: Sergey Prokofiev’s Ten Pieces for Piano from the Ballet ‘Romeo and Juliet’ appeared in 1937, Paul Hindemith’s The Four Temperaments for piano and strings in 1940.
Among composers of the last century Prokofiev in particular was devoted to the programmatic suite genre, which allowed him to breathe new life into the musical material of his own, mainly scenic, works. The composer regarded such genre changes as an opportune and natural way to expand not only the range of performers, but also his auditorium. Often Prokofiev worked simultaneously on a scenic work and suites derived from its musical content. Especially fruitful in this respect were three ballets composed in his homeland during his mature creative period – Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella and The Tale of the Stone Flower. Music from each of these was embodied in four suites – the maximum number for Prokofiev’s genre transformations.
Total time: 01:02:45
|Original Recording Format|
Microphones – Neumann km130; DPA (B & K) 4006 ; DPA (B & K) 4011 SCHOEPS mk2S; SCHOEPS mk41
Erdo Groot, Roger de Schot
5th Studio of The Russian Television and Radio
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||September 9, 2015|
Audiophile Audition Review: “Ballet Music” – PROKOFIEV / HINDEMITH
Two works for ballet, composed about the same time but quite different in many ways.
Though both of these works are in fact for ballets, it seems to be a rather odd coupling for an album. The first is strictly solo piano—though the piano transcriptions from Prokofiev’s ballet have been getting a lot of attention on recordings—and the second orchestra. Also, the Prokofiev music is probably his most melodic and familiar of his entire opera, while no one would accuse Hindemith of having any easily-recalled melodies. Pianist Koudriakov says in his liner notes that both are related to 20th-century ballet music and were composed at about the same time, so that may explain his choices.
Prokofiev extracted two orchestra suites and one piano suite of ten pieces from his Romeo and Juliet ballet. This allowed him to breathe new life into his original musical material. The piano suite has a shorter scenario than the complete ballet and ends just prior to the scene at the tomb where Romeo takes poison himself. The dance music translates beautifully to the solo piano.
Hindemith composed his original “untitled suite suitable for dance” for George Balanchine shortly after the composer had arrived in the U.S., driven out of Germany by the Nazi. But the ballet version was not premiered until 1946, with its theme and four human dance characters for the following four movements. In portions it is a concerto for piano and chamber orchestra, yet in other places it becomes a larger-scale orchestral work. The surround sonics on both selections—courtesy of Polyhymnia International—are top rate. I should mention the lovely line drawings on the actual SACD, which look like the work of Cocteau or Hans Erni.
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