Anyone who loves Prokofiev's Symphony No. 6 in E flat minor will love this performance by Yevgeny Mravinsky and the Leningrad Philharmonic recorded at a performance in the Royal Albert Hall in 1971. The question is, does anyone actually love Prokofiev's Symphony No. 6 in E flat minor? Not the Communist Party of the Union of Soviet Socialistic Republics, which condemned the composer and the work for the crime of being too real and sentenced them both to no further performances. And not the West, which has pretty much ignored the reality Prokofiev's brutal and agonizing Sixth in favor of the irony of his charming and delectable First.
Mravinsky and the Leningrad's performance is the real thing: they gave the work its premiere and their performance 25 years later has the fervor of an evangelist preaching to heathens and unbelievers. The bludgeoning, pummeling brutality of the opening Allegro moderato; the searing, soaring agony of the central Largo; and the racing, roaring strength of the closing Vivace has the reality of a boot in the face. While no one may love Prokofiev's Symphony No. 6, Mravinsky and the Leningrad make everyone in the Royal Albert Hall fear and respect it.
Anyone would love Mravinsky and the Leningrad's performance of Glinka's Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla, with its incredibly fast tempos and unbelievably precise playing. But only someone who loved double chocolate milkshakes with whipped cream and a cherry on top would like Evgeny Svetlanov and the USSR Symphony's 1968 recording of a decadently voluptuous "Classical" Symphony, which fills out the disc. Intaglio's sound is sufficient unto the day. Whether they like it or not, everyone should hear this disc for its Prokofiev Sixth.