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Utah Symphony Orchestra & Thierry Fischer – Prokofiev: Alexander Nevsky, Op. 78 & Lieutenant Kije Suite, Op. 60 (2019) [Official Digital Download 24bit/192kHz]

Utah Symphony Orchestra & Thierry Fischer – Prokofiev: Alexander Nevsky, Op. 78 & Lieutenant Kijé Suite, Op. 60 (2019)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 59:58 minutes | 1,87 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Reference Recordings

The Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev was one of the giants of 20th century music. Reference Recordings is proud to present the Utah Symphony conducted by Thierry Fischer, in grand new performances of “Alexander Nevsky” and the “Lieutenant Kijé Suite”, two of his most brilliant and dramatic musical works. The music of Lieutenant Kijé was originally written as the score to the film of the same name, released in March 1934. Prokofiev soon adapted it into the five-movement Lieutenant Kijé Suite, first performed in December 1934, and which quickly became a favorite in the international concert repertoire. Then, in 1938, Prokofiev collaborated with film director Eisenstein to create the score for the film Alexander Nevsky. He later adapted much of his score into the large-scale cantata for mezzo-soprano, orchestra and chorus featured on this recording.

A man of his time, Prokofiev linked his name with Russian cinema. He worked with Eisenstein on the film Alexander Nevski in 1938. The two men inspired each other: some sequences were built around images, others, around music. This was a very singular set-up which made the original soundtrack more than just a dramatic enhancer, but a motor of the action in its own right. Prokofiev wrote a cantata for mezzo, mixed choir and orchestra in seven tableaux for the work. The orchestra, with its clever spacing of the deepest bass tones and the sharpest high notes, forges a space for the choir which is grandiose, and oftentimes unsettling. Prokofiev’s musical language makes a modernist harmony of strained dissonances and themes with a folk feel. The musicians, choristers and instrumentalists all perform at a very high level of excellence. Led by Thierry Fisher, no stranger to repertoires that make use of imposing ensembles, they present a very fine version. Never falling into forced grandiloquence, they do justice to the work and all its historical and political resonances.

The second, lighter part of this Prokofiev album centres on his first foray into cinema, in 1933. Alexander Feinzimmer’s film, Lieutenant Kijé, tells of an imaginary lieutenant, who comes into being as a result of an administrative error. It was never performed, but Prokofiev turned his score into an orchestral suite. With an often- caustic humour, the suite moves between a series of evocative atmospheres. The careful foregrounding of the wind section creates a sonic parade of uniforms, fifes and horns, creating a stylised military world, in particular in the and third movements. The second movement presents a Romance in the form of variations on a theme. Double bass, bassoon, celesta and flute all join together in this nostalgic theme. A tour de force of writing, the finale brings together all the themes of the whole work into a single, poignant tableau, in which the Utah Symphony’s ability to create a multiplicity of colours and soundscapes really allows them to shine. – Elsa Siffert

01. Alexander Nevsky, Op. 78: No. 1, Russia Under the Mongolian Yoke (3:30)
02. Alexander Nevsky, Op. 78: No. 2, Song About Alexander Nevsky (3:50)
03. Alexander Nevsky, Op. 78: No. 3, The Crusaders in Pskov (7:29)
04. Alexander Nevsky, Op. 78: No. 4, Arise, Men of Russia (2:06)
05. Alexander Nevsky, Op. 78: No. 5, The Battle on Ice (13:46)
06. Alexander Nevsky, Op. 78: No. 6, The Field of the Dead (6:14)
07. Alexander Nevsky, Op. 78: No. 7, Alexander’s Entry into Pskov (4:38)
08. Lieutenant Kijé Suite, Op. 60 (Version for Orchestra): I. Birth of Kijé (3:58)
09. Lieutenant Kijé Suite, Op. 60 (Version for Orchestra): II. Romance (3:58)
10. Lieutenant Kijé Suite, Op. 60 (Version for Orchestra): III. Kijé’s Wedding (2:33)
11. Lieutenant Kijé Suite, Op. 60 (Version for Orchestra): IV. Troika (2:42)
12. Lieutenant Kijé Suite, Op. 60 (Version for Orchestra): V. Kijé’s Funeral (5:22)

Thierry Fischer, music director
Utah Symphony Chorus
University of Utah A Cappella Choir
University of Utah Chamber Choir
Barlow Bradford, Director


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