Prokofiev: Symphonies – No 1 in D major, Op 25 (Classical); No 7 in C sharp minor, Op 131; Lieutenant Kijé, Op 60 (Suite)

Reviewed on Thu 20 Jul, 2017

The Seventh Symphony enjoys an appealing outing, Tughan Sokhiev treating the score with deceptive gravitas. It gets much the same strong recording as the other works.

Prokofiev is one of the most approachable of the 20th-century composers. His goals included being as clear as possible in expression. He wrote a few tough works, but they aren't on this gratifying disc from the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under Tugan Sokhiev. They're away to a delicious start with the Lieutenant Kije Suite, music taken from a mid-30s film score. Here we get the version omitting the solo singers. The performance is suitably colourful, and care has clearly gone into it. The rest of the platter is devoted to Prokofiev's first and last symphonies, both of which are pretty light-hearted. In both, Sokhiev is either after a weighty result or else he is just a serious chap. The First, known as the 'Classical' (for Prokofiev's aim seems to be Haydn for the new century), starts with the only big disappointment, being overly slow for an opening allegro (quick, lively), but we get more fizz in the rest, and lots of attractive playing. Again, though, the finale could surely have done with more vivaciousness. The Seventh enjoys an appealing outing, Sokhiev treating the score with deceptive gravitas. It gets much the same strong recording as the other works. You do get some most interesting, distinctly thoughtful music-making throughout. This last symphony is sometimes seen as rather odd. I wonder if there would have been a profound capping of the cycle if Prokofiev hadn't died prematurely.
–Ivor Solomons