Magazine article Gramophone

Prokofiev: Symphony No 5

Magazine article Gramophone

Prokofiev: Symphony No 5

Article excerpt

Prokofiev

Symphony No 5, Op 100. Scythian Suite, Op 20 Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra / Andrew Litton BIS (F) [SACD]. BIS2124 (67' * DDD/DSD)

Andrew Litton began his Prokofiev symphony cycle with a successful reading of the profound yet problematic Sixth (6/13). The Fifth presents fewer difficulties save perhaps in the second movement, when the main scherzo idea skulks in at a slower tempo before accelerating up to speed, and at the very end of the symphony where Prokofiev suddenly reduces the dynamic level as if to confront us with the compromised quality of the rejoicing. Some august ensembles have been found wanting in these awkward comers. Litton favours a relatively abrupt transition in the first instance and he keeps a tight grip on the fretful bustle at the close, helped by his incisive, un-gabbled treatment of the finale as a whole.

Litton is not usually a conductor prone to interpretative extremes and apart from some oddly articulated braking, momentarily intrusive in the opening movement, there is little to criticise and much to admire. Hereabouts we are conceptually closer to Karajan than speed merchants such as Jansons or Gergiev, not that anyone else is quite so seamlessly monolithic. …

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