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Reference Recordings is proud to present the Utah Symphony conducted by Thierry Fischer, in grand new performances of Alexander Nevsky and the Lieutenant Kijé Suite, two of Prokofiev’s most brilliant and dramatic musical works.
The music of Lieutenant Kijé was originally written as the score to the film of the same name, released in March 1934. It was Prokofiev’s first film music and his first commission. Prokofiev soon adapted it into the five-movement Lieutenant Kijé Suite, first performed in December 1934, and which quickly became a favorite in the international concert repertoire.
Then, in 1938, Prokofiev collaborated with film director Eisenstein to create the score for the film Alexander Nevsky. He later adapted much of his score into the large-scale cantata for mezzo-soprano, orchestra and chorus featured on this recording.
This release was recorded and mastered by the team at Soundmirror, whose outstanding orchestral, solo, opera, and chamber recordings have received more than 100 Grammy nominations and awards. For over 40 years, Soundmirror has recorded for every major classical record label, including Reference Recordings.
This recording was made and post-produced in DSD 64fs on a Pyramix workstation to give you, the listener, the highest quality possible.
Total time: 00:59:49
Horus, Merging Technologies
George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation
Mark Donahue (Soundmirror, Boston)
Soundmirror chose 5 DPA 4006 microphones as the main microphone array. Supplementing those with “spot mics” to clarify the detail of the orchestration, they worked toward realizing above goals.
This recording was made and post produced in DSD 64fs on a Pyramix workstation to give you, the listener, the highest quality possible.
|Original Recording Format|
Dirk Sobotka (Soundmirror, Boston)
John Newton (Soundmirror, Boston)
Maurice Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah on November 18 and 19, 2016
Pyramix, Merging Technologies
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||October 24, 2019|
Discerning collectors are used to releases from the Reference Recordings label receiving effusive plaudits, not only for the high artistic level of the performances but especially for the thrilling audiophile sound quality that brings listening at home to a new level of enjoyment. This latest spectacular recording from Thierry Fischer and the Utah Symphony of two of Prokofiev’s most popular film-related scores will assuredly continue that trend.
In 1938 Prokofiev received a commission to work with the celebrated director Sergei Eisenstein on the music for the film ‘Alexander Nevsky’. The mutual admiration each man had for the other’s artistic endeavours proved to be an ideal collaboration that resulted in one of the greatest film epics of the twentieth century. The film tells the story of the invasion of Russia in the 13th century by crusading Teutonic knights whose cruelty is graphically depicted. Prince Alexander Nevsky of Novgorod inspires the people of the Pskov region to take up arms against the invaders. They do this in what is the longest and most complex sequence in the film, the famous ‘Battle on the Ice’ that takes place on a frozen Lake Preipus. Nevsky and his forces are victorious and return in triumph to Pskov.
Shortly after completion of the film Prokofiev re-arranged and expanded his music into the imposing seven movement dramatic cantata for the concert hall heard on this album.
Over more than ten seasons as Musical Director of the Utah Symphony Thierry Fischer has moulded the orchestra into a wonderfully responsive and virtuoso body of musicians as the playing here clearly demonstrates. His tempi throughout are well-judged, closer to Prokofiev’s markings than some versions on disc, and his pacing of the work always displays clear musical and dramatic purpose. The purely orchestral movement ‘Russia under Mongolian Tyranny’ that opens the work is just one example of the sensitive and atmospheric playing on offer. In ‘The Battle on the Ice’ that is justifiably the high point of this score Fischer does not rush his fences, so the steady build-up to the battle’s climax, while never lacking excitement, is made all the more impressive. The soloist in the sixth movement ‘The Field of the Dead’ is the Russian mezzo-soprano Alisa Kolosova. Her youthful vocal timbre and vibrant idiomatic delivery is most appealing in this moving threnody. And the exemplary integration by the recording engineers of Kolosova’s voice with Fischer’s flowing accompaniment is most welcome, especially when all too often the soloist is unrealistically positioned too close to the microphone.
The large chorus, well drilled by director Barlow Bradford, comprises the Utah Symphony Chorus, University of Utah A Capella Choir and the University of Utah Chamber Choir. Their legato singing in the ‘Song of Alexander Nevsky’ is quite lovely as is their discipline and precision, but occasionally, in the cantata’s more dramatic sections, I would have welcomed a tad more trenchant fervour, though in general there is no lack of vocal firepower.
The Lieutenant Kijé Suite is one of Prokofiev’s most popular works and needs no introduction having received innumerable recordings on disc, though surprisingly this is only the fourth to appear in DSD Multichannel sound. Fischer, unlike Litton on BIS, opts for the usual five-movement concert suite rather than the alternative version in which the Romance and Troika movements are sung by a baritone. This fleet and beautifully characterised account of the score, superbly delivered by his Utah musicians is, for this listener, something of a revelation, while the state-of-the-art sound vividly captures every facet of Prokofiev’s distinctive orchestration from high piccolo to floor shaking bass drum.
The Soundmirror team are already familiar with capturing, as here, a wonderfully coherent soundstage and rounded ambience in the generous acoustic of the Maurice Abravanel Hall, Salt Lake City, Utah where both works were recorded live (18th and 19th November 2016). The multi-channel 5.0 recording, made and post produced in DSD 64fs, offers a degree of aural realism not to be found in any rival medium, but is shown to particular advantage in large-scale orchestral and choral pieces such as these.
It need hardly be said that as always from Reference Recordings the presentation of this release is first class. The excellent liner notes include – a splendidly informative seven page essay on both works by Paul Griffiths, an English translation from the Russian of the vocal sections of Alexander Nevsky, as well as a listing of the members of the Utah Symphony and all the other performers involved.
This stunningly recorded album with 60 minutes of compelling music performed with style and verve will almost certainly make it the go-to choice for a modern version these two works.
Performance: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Multichannel Sonics: 5 out of 5 Stars
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