Sergueï Prokofiev – Symphony n° 5 (1/2)

Photo : http://www.gaso.ru/

Second part

Alexander Gauk conducted the creation in 1945 with the USSR

State symphony orchestra, later on called Russian State symphony orchestra, but known today as the “Svetlanov orchestra”. Surprisingly, Svetlanov never recorded this symphony.

About this symphony, Prokofiev stated: “I thought of it as a work glorifying the human spirit. I wanted to sing of mankind free and happy; his strength, his generosity and the purity of his soul.”

I could access to around 50 versions (miss Rojdestvenski) :

Koussevitzky Boston symphony orchestra 1952
Tuxen DR Radiosymfoniorkestret 1953
Mitropoulos Vienna Philharmonic 1954
Szell Wiener Symphoniker 1954
Horenstein Orchestre de l’Association des Concerts Colonne 1962
Rodzinski Orchestra della RAI di Roma 1957
Bruck Orchestre national de la Radiodiffusion Française 1958
Dorati Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra 1959
Sargent London Symphony Orchestra 1959
Ormandy Philadelphia Orchestra 1960
Szell The Cleveland Orchestra 1960
Ivanov USSR State Symphonic Orchestra 1961
Kletzki The Philharmonia 1964
Slovak Czech Philharmonic Orchestra 1964
Celibidache Orchestra Sinfonica di Torino della RAI 1969
Simonov Bolshoi Theater Orchestra 1973
Previn London Symphony Orchestra 1975
Weller London Symphony Orchestra 1975
Maazel The Cleveland Orchestra 1978
Bernstein Israel Philharmonic Orchestra 1980
Karajan Berliner Philharmoniker 1982
Järvi N. Scottish National Orchestra 1986
Ashkenazy Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra 1987
Previn Los Angeles Philharmonic 1987
Celibidache Munich Philharmonic Orchestra 1988
Handley Royal Philharmonic Orchestra 1988
Jansons Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra 1988
Dutoit Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal 1989
Barshai The Philharmonia 1990
Levi Atlanta Symphony Orchestra 1991
Muti Philadelphia Orchestra 1991
Temirkanov Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra 1991
Rattle City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra 1993
Kitayenko Moscow RTV Large Symphony Orchestra 1994
Gunzenhauser Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra 1995
Kuchar Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra 1996
Gergiev Mariinsky Orchestra 2006
Sanderling Novosibirsk Academic Symphony Orchestra 2006
Jurowski Russian national Orchestra 2007
Järvi P. Cincinnati Symphony  2008
Ashkenazy Sydney Symphony 2010
Botstein American Symphony Orchestra 2010
Eschenbach The Philadelphia Orchestra 2010
Alsop Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra 2012
Oramo Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra 2012
Gergiev Mariinsky orchestra 2012
Gaffigan Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra 2014
Karabits Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra 2015
Litton Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra 2015
Jansons Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra 2016
Sokhiev Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin 2016

Not any really bad version here.

1 – Andante

Serge Koussevitzky (1874-1951) – Boston symphony orchestra – 1951
Koussevitsky conducted it already in 1945 in Boston. It’s not very well played and the conducting is a little shaky. 6

Erik Tuxen (1920-1957) – DR Radiosymfoniorkestret – 1953
Sounds better, rather gloomy anyway. 7

 

Dimitri Mitropoulos (1896-1960) – Vienna Philharmonic – 1954
Live – Too bad the sound is so distant. A document.

 

George Szell (1897-1970) – Wiener Symphoniker – 1954
Live – Animated, clear textures, not really appealing though. 7

Jacha Horenstein (1898-1973) – Orchestre de l’Association des Concerts Colonne – 1962
Not the best orchestra neither best sound.  Animated conducting though.  7

Arthur Rodziński (1892-1958) – Orchestra della RAI di Roma – 1957
Weak sound, again a document.

 

Charles Bruck (1911-1995) – Orchestre national de la Radiodiffusion Française – 1958
Decent mono sound, the best conducting so far. I couldn’t find any original sleeve. 7.5

Antal Dorati (1906-1988) – Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra – 1959
Rather aggressive tones but good conducting. 7


Malcom Sargent (1895-1967) – London Symphony Orchestra – 1959

Very slow, but it breathes, superb orchestra, good sound and for once some grandeur.  8.5

Eugene Ormandy (1899-1985) – Philadelphia Orchestra – 1960
Again a quiet tempo, the sound is a bit melted
beautiful atmospheres, lacking of some drive. 8

George Szell  – The Cleveland Orchestra – 1960
Superb orchestra, homogeneous and detailed at the same time, more decided than Ormandy. 8.5

 
Konstantin Ivanov (1907-1984) – USSR State Symphonic Orchestra – 1961
Probably the slower. the beginning is like a funeral march, some false notes, a very unusual lecture. 7.5 I will keep it though.

Paul Kletzki (1900-1973) – The Philharmonia – 1964
It is rather brisk. I never liked this conductor in my Mahler comparisons, but here it is animated, decided, good orchestra and sound. 8

Ladislav Slovak (1919-1999) – Czech Philharmonic Orchestra – 1964
A very fluid account, superb brass, vivid. 8

 

Sergiu Celibidache (1912-1996) – Orchestra Sinfonica di Torino della RAI – 1969
For once a rather fast tempo from Celi… Beautiful strings, a little heavy ; overall it is rather thick and steady. 7
Iouri Simonov (1941-*) – Bolshoi Theater Orchestra -1973
Nothing bad, but a cold lecture not really interesting. 7


André Previn (1929-2019) – London Symphony Orchestra – 1975

A balanced reading, rather cautious. 7.5

 

Walter Weller (1939-2015) – London Symphony Orchestra – 1975
The slow tempo let the tones glow.  Music breathes more than with Previn and the same orchestra, very well recorded. 8

Lorin Maazel (1930-2014) – The Cleveland Orchestra – 1978
Even slower. Lacks of tension, rather boring. 6.5
 

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) – Israel Philharmonic Orchestra – 1980
Slower again and boring again.  6.5


Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989) – Berliner Philharmoniker – 1982

Superb phrasings, rather thick sound maybe, a little on Sibelius side too, but vivid. 8

Neeme Järvi (1937-*) – Scottish National Orchestra – 1986
Decided, animated, brisk, this very ‘tight’ conducting suits very well this type of music. 8.5

Vladimir Ashkenazy (1937-*) – Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra – 1987
Lacks of tension and relief. 7


André Previn – Los Angeles Philharmonic – 1987

Relaxed, atmospheric but not breathtaking. 7.5

Sergiu Celibidache – Munich Philharmonic Orchestra – 1988
(live) Detailed, but lacks of drive. 7.5
 

Vernon Handley (1930-2008) – Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – 1988
Same – slow – tempo. Lacks of animation too, some beautiful atmospheres though. 7.5

Mariss Jansons (1943-2019) – Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra – 1988
Fast tempo. Contrasted dynamics, vivid, enjoyable. 8
 

Charles Dutoit (1936-*) – Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal – 1989
Slow.  It is rather flat. 7


Roudolf Barshai (1924-2010) – The Philharmonia – 1990

Nothing much to say, it is rather distant and does not interest much. 7

Yoel Levi (1950-*) – Atlanta Symphony Orchestra – 1991
The slowest by far (15’40, some did it in 11’30). Not a very good orchestral sound. It just does not work at this speed. 6

Riccardo Muti (1941-*) – Philadelphia Orchestra – 1991
It is elegant, but not really concerning. 7

 

Iouri Temirkanov (1938-*) – Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra – 1991
Beautiful orchestra and phrasing, enjoyable though a little static. 8

Simon Rattle (1955-*) – City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra -1993
Rather annoying.  7

 

Dmitri Kitayenko (1940-*) – Moscow RTV Large Symphony Orchestra – 1994
Very good orchestra, accents, good balance, but a little static. 7.5

Stephen Gunzenhauser (1942-*) – Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra – 1995
Not the best strings heard up to now.  A good account though. 7.5

Theodore Kuchar (1963-*) – Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra – 1996
A rather sequential lecture, distant sound. 7

 

Valery Gergiev (1953-*) – London symphony orchestra – 2006
Very soft beginning then animation, an organic version. 8

Thomas Sanderling (1942-*) – Novosibirsk Academic Symphony Orchestra – 2006
Could not find any recording by his father Kurt.  Low tension. 6.5

Vladimir Jurowski (1972-*) – Russian national Orchestra – 2007
Good sound (one of the rare versions in which you can hear the piano). A good but not outstanding lecture. 7.5

Paavo Järvi (1962-*) – Cincinnati Symphony  – 2008
Rather apathetic. 7

 

Vladimir Ashkenazy – Sydney Symphony – 2010
Balance problems., not a very good orchestra here. 6.5

 


Leon Botstein (1946-*) – American Symphony Orchestra – 2010

Very slow as Levi, does not work either. 6

 

Christoph Eschenbach (1940-*) – The Philadelphia Orchestra – 2010
Published by the orchestra. Why? 6

 

Marin Alsop (1956-*) – Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra – 2012
Nice ambiance, rather static and linear. 7

 

Sakari Oramo (1965-*) – Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra – 2012
Fast but not interesting at all. 6.5

 

Valery Gergiev (1953-*) – Mariinsky  orchestra – 2012
Same characteristics as with the London symphony.  Just a little less vivid. 7.5

James Gaffigan (1979-*) – Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra – 2014
Good conducting, despite good episodes, a little straight. 7.5

Kyrylo Karabits (1976-*) – Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra – 2015
Again a good lecture, lacking of drive. 7


Andrew Litton (1959-*) – Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra – 2015
Dynamic, animated, well structured. 8

 

Mariss Jansons (-) – Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra – 2016
(Live) A good account, sound is a little thick, I prefer the Leningrad account. 7.5

Tugan Sokhiev (1977-*) – Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin – 2016
Rather slow, dynamic, warm, not the best orchestra, but interesting. 8

So for further comparisons, I will keep for the moment :

Malcom Sargent
George Szell
Neeme Järvi
Eugene Ormandy
Paul Kletzki
Ladislav Slovak
Walter Weller
Herbert von Karajan
Mariss Jansons
Iouri Temirkanov
Valery Gergiev
Andrew Litton
Tugan Sokhiev

 

 

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