It has often been argued that one can hear Prokofiev's longing to return to Russia in the music of these two ballets from his final years in the West, that the luminous lyricism of The Prodigal Son and the passionate optimism of On the Dneiper ideally embody his ardent nostalgic feelings for his homeland. After hearing the music, how could anyone disagree? Played here in the composer's piano transcriptions by Maria Ivanova, the ballets somehow sound even more filled with yearning stripped of their orchestral colors -- and possibly even more affecting. Ivanova doesn't downplay the importance of rhythm and tempo -- these are wonderfully danceable performances -- but her phrasing and her voicing bring out the ache in the melodies and the hunger of the harmonies in ways that seem to surpass the capacities of a full orchestra. Indeed, one would very much enjoy hearing Ivanova's take on the same composer's works originally conceived for solo piano. Virtuosity is crucial in Prokofiev's piano writing, and in this department, Ivanova lacks for nothing. But virtuosity is always assumed as a given: more important is giving voice to his themes and strength to his forms, and in these departments, Ivanova likewise lacks for nothing. Anyone who knows and loves the composer, and especially anyone who knows and loves The Prodigal Son and On the Dneiper, will want to hear this disc. CPO's sound is cool, clear, and direct.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|The Prodigal Son, ballet, Op. 46|
|On the Dnieper (Sur le Borysthène), ballet, Op. 51|