Neeme Järvi

Prokofiev: Lieutenant Kijé; The Stone Flower Suite

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This 2008 Chandos release is an exact duplication of the same label's 1990 release of Neeme Järvi leading the Scottish National Orchestra in a program of miscellaneous orchestral music by Soviet modernist Sergey Prokofiev. As before, the disc starts with Lieutenant Kijé, ends with the suite from The Stone Flower and in between has two early tone poems, Dreams and Autumnal, and the transcription of the Andante from the String Quartet No. 1. And as before, the performances are more than functional and less than exemplary. Järvi clearly knows his way around the very popular Lieutenant Kijé, getting the cross rhythms right in the closing movement and the saucy tone right throughout. From there on, however, it's downhill. Järvi's take on Dreams and Autumnal is standard-issue late Romantic bathos, his account of the Andante is off the rack early modernist pathos, and his reading of The Stone Flower Suite is so straightforward that it almost entirely lacks character. With the dutiful but not particularly refined playing of the Scottish musicians, Järvi has essentially removed most of Prokofiev's salient characteristics from the works after Kijé. Where is the lyricism of Dreams, the edge of Autumnal, or the muscle of The Stone Flower? Although except for Kijé there are few recordings of these works on this disc, the alternatives are always preferable. Chandos' early digital sound is clear and colorful, but also hard and glassy.

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