Volume 4 in Marin Alsop's series on Naxos of the symphonies of Sergey Prokofiev presents one of the most bracing works in the cycle, the Symphony No. 3 in C minor, programmed with the Scythian Suite (Ala et Lolly), and the symphonic sketch, Autumn. In composing the Third Symphony, Prokofiev borrowed music from his unperformed ballet, The Fiery Angel, and gave the symphony a sharply modernist and uncompromising character, quite unlike his popular Symphony No. 1, "Classical." The Scythian Suite is another challenging work, often compared to Igor Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps because it was written as a ballet on primitive Russian themes and displays aggressive rhythms and harsh dissonances. In contrast, Autumn is a subdued tone poem that ebbs and flows with chromatic harmonies that suggest fog and gloom. Alsop and the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra deliver the Third and the Scythian Suite with powerful, incisive rhythms and volatile dynamics, which makes for exciting listening, while their performance of Autumn offers smoother gradations of textures and a gentler feeling. Naxos provides adequate reproduction with good details and clear textures, though there's little depth.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Scythian Suite (Ala et Lolly), Op. 20|
|Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 44|