Erich Leinsdorf

Prokofiev: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 6

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Are these great recordings of Prokofiev's Second and Sixth symphonies? No, but they are, for the most part, good enough, and they were, in their time, practically revelatory of works largely unfamiliar to western, much less Boston, audiences. In the mid-'60s, there were very few available recordings of either the Second or the Sixth and the panache and professionalism of Erich Leinsdorf and the Boston Symphony's performances made the works seem astoundingly fresh and astonishingly relevant to a generation just getting to know the symphonies of Shostakovich. The iron-and-steel strength of the Second and the sorrow-and-the-pity Sixth sounded, in Leinsdorf and the Boston's hands, like vital works in the twentieth century symphonic tradition and, this was practically an epiphany, especially for the Second, an otherwise nearly forgotten work. It's true that passing years and subsequent recordings have made the Leinsdorf/BSO Second and Sixth seem less urgent and more simply generic, less well-played and more merely competent, less convincing and more just plain loud, and listeners who had not known them in their time might have wondered what the fuss was once about when the performances were reissued on Testament in 2006. Testament's remastered RCA full spectrum stereo sound is gargantuan.

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