The image Sergei Prokofiev seems to project, particularly when it comes to the music he wrote while living in the West from 1914 to 1935, is one of a joker and an agitator, yet a classical composer at the core. This double identity can be heard even in his earliest works, mostly for piano, written before 1914, and was sealed with his ‘Classical’ Symphony in 1917.
The subtitle is the composer’s own. Indeed, Prokofiev stated, ‘I wanted to write a symphony that Haydn or Mozart would have written had they lived in the twentieth century.’ In this way, he codified not only his own image, but also that of neoclassicism itself (the prevailing style during the interwar years) as ‘classical music with a few wrong notes here and there’.
His French contemporary Florent Schmitt called the work ‘an unpublished Haydn’, a characterization which is in part justified. In terms of their length, form, instrumentation and harmony, the first and last movements resemble a classical sonata.
Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
James Gaffigan, Conductor
Total time: 00:58:28
Bert van der Wolf
|Original Recording Format|
Bert van der Wolf
Bert van der Wolf, Brenden Heinst
MCO studio 5 Hilversum, The Netherlands
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||April 7, 2017|
From the opening bars, one feels something quite special going on in this performance. There is just a “rightness” to the dynamics and the pacing. Maestro Gaffigan certainly adheres to the tempo markings, there is no self-indulgent emphasis, but it’s not needed. The more I listen, the more this opening movement sounds right. (…) it is a very nice performance, and it is by a long way the best sounding of the various performances I know. (…) This album continues with Symphony No. 5 (1944) (…) and, if you are looking anywhere among Prokofiev’s symphonies for a truly powerful orchestral statement, this is a pretty good stopping point.
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