Various Artists

Prokofiev: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition

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Anyone who loves Prokofiev will probably stay far away from Warner Bros.' Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, a collection of mostly mediocre-to-rotten performances. But anyone who loves Prokofiev will probably at least want to hear the bonus disc included in the edition because it features Prokofiev himself as a performer. That Prokofiev was one of the great Russian pianists of his generation is well known, but recordings of him performing are relatively few. This bonus disc features many of his best and most character piano roll recordings from the late teens and '20s. It includes performances of five of his own works, a prelude by Rachmaninov and a couple by Scriabin, excerpts from Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, an improvisation of themes from Rimsky-Korsakov's Sheherazade, a couple of recordings of Prokofiev singing excerpts from his cantata Ivan the Terrible, and a brief interview with the composer. The Prokofiev who emerges from these splendidly remastered performances is an iron and steel virtuoso whose Mussorgsky excerpts are stunning and whose Sheherazade Fantasia is breathtaking. In his own music, Prokofiev is even more impressive: the Toccata is incredibly exciting and the March from The Love of Three Oranges has never been more convincingly ironic. Prokofiev's performance of the Rachmaninov and Scriabin preludes are completely wrong-headed -- the grim and grand Rachmaninov's G minor prelude sounds like it was written by Prokofiev intoxicated and the ethereal Scriabin preludes sound like they were written by Prokofiev in flagrante -- but it's still worth it to hear how Prokofiev heard other composers' music. And hearing Prokofiev himself sing in a big, gruff baritone with a delivery like a Chicago meatpacker is worth it all by itself.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Symphony No. 6 in E flat minor, Op. 111
1
16:09
2
16:54
3
9:16
Symphony No. 1 in D major ("Classical"), Op. 25
4
3:06
5
4:47
6
4:43
7
5:58

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Symphony No. 2 in D minor, Op. 40
1
12:53
2
24:53
Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 44
3
13:10
4
7:03
5
8:18
6
6:32

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Symphony No. 7 in C sharp minor, Op. 131
1
9:41
2
7:48
3
6:30
4
9:33
Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, Op. 100
5
12:43
6
8:44
7
11:57
8
9:22

Track Listing - Disc 11

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Peter and the Wolf, children's tale for narrator & orchestra, Op. 67
1
1:44
2
0:58
3
1:34
4
2:29
5
1:48
6
2:26
7
3:09
8
1:33
9
2:33
10
1:48
11
2:15
12
4:48
13
2:15
14
1:03
15
1:35
16
2:32
17
1:47
18
2:36
19
3:16
20
1:37
21
2:57
22
1:30
23
2:13
24
4:55

Track Listing - Disc 22

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
War and Peace, opera, Op. 91
1
5:39
2
1:41
3
1:04
4
1:31
5
2:45
6
3:00
7
3:43
8
2:40
9
3:50
10
1:10
11
2:05
12
4:18
13
1:29
14
2:43
15
3:18
16
9:55
17
1:13
18
1:44
19
3:09
20
2:30
21
1:29
22
9:28
23
1:12

Track Listing - Disc 23

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
War and Peace, opera, Op. 91
1
1:49
2
1:04
3
0:44
4
2:00
5
1:22
6
2:09
7
4:05
8
0:59
9
1:18
10
8:06
11
1:52
12
1:01
13
0:25
14
3:05
15
2:03
16
1:10
17
4:12
18
2:14
19
6:48
20
5:12
21
3:19
22
1:00
23
4:21