Kirill Karabits / Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

Prokofiev: Symphonies 4 (Op. 47) & 5; Dreams

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After a period in which the symphonies of Shostakovich were exhaustively explored, Britain's numerous capable orchestras and large collection of expatriate Russian and Eastern European conductors turned in the mid-2010s to Prokofiev. This release by Ukraine's Kirill Karabits and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is the third in a series covering the composer's symphonies. Here you get the original version of the Symphony No. 4 in C major, Op. 47, from 1930; presumably Prokofiev's substantial revision of the work after World War II awaits a final volume in the series. The pairing of these two works is an unusual one, for they seem to inhabit two different worlds; Karabits revels in the contrast. The early version of the Symphony No. 4 is elliptical, light but rather sly, and highly concentrated; the later version stretches out the material to a much greater degree. One of Karabits' specialties is orchestral transparency, and the subtle orchestral writing in this work flourishes under his baton. Sample the finale (track 8) with its startling timpani strokes. The Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, Op. 100, the wartime counterpart to Shostakovich's Symphony No. 7, but an entirely different and life-affirming work. Karabits bathes the opening movement in a warm lyricism, and in general the accessibility that has made this one of Prokofiev's most popular works is taken at face value. The early Dreams, Op. 6, a work that reduces symbolist ideas to wonderfully simple music, is an excellent way to bring down the curtain. Tastes may vary among the conductors who have taken up Prokofiev's music during this period, but for these pieces Karabits is likely to be a safe, satisfying choice for most listeners.

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