Sergey Prokofiev: Symphony No. 6; Waltz Suite

Marin Alsop / Orquestra Sinfónica do Estado de São Paulo - OSESP

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Sergey Prokofiev: Symphony No. 6; Waltz Suite Review

by James Manheim

Prokofiev's Waltz Suite, Op. 110, is not much played, perhaps because composers of the 20th century were not supposed to recycle music the way Bach routinely did. But the work, pieced together from waltz episodes in the opera War and Peace, Op. 91, the almost unknown film score Lermontov, and the ballet Cinderella, Op. 87, is more than the sum of its parts: the waltzes have a nice edge and a developmental quality when heard in sequence, adding to the attractive tunes (which are excellent specimens of Prokofiev at his melodic best already). Sample any part of this to hear the best of the album, but be aware that the cumulative effect is key. The performance here by Marin Alsop and the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra is excellent, with strong rhythmic profiles that emphasize the deeper currents in the music. Prokofiev put this suite together as he was working on the Symphony No. 6, Op. 111, intended as a grim memorial for Soviet war dead. In fact, the work merely got Prokofiev in trouble with Stalin's cultural commissars, just as Shostakovich had suffered. This performance is not quite as distinctive, compared with virtuoso Russian ones, but this entry in Alsop's Prokofiev series is a recommended addition to collections, beautifully recorded on the orchestra's home ground.

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