Prokofiev: Symphonies – No 4 in C major, Op 47 (1930 version); No 5 in B flat major, Op 100; Dreams, Op 6

Reviewed on Fri 11 Sep, 2015

Especially impressive here is the Ukrainian conductor's defiantly unflashy, enviably cogent way with the mighty Fifth Symphony, all interpretative hazards negotiated with a sure-footed mastery.

This is the penultimate volume in Kirill Karabits's Prokofiev symphony cycle for Onyx. Especially impressive here is the Ukrainian conductor's defiantly unflashy, enviably cogent way with the mighty Fifth Symphony, all interpretative hazards (such as that tricky accelerando out of the second movement's trio section) negotiated with a sure-footed mastery so that one can sit back and marvel afresh at the music's prodigal inventive flair, myriad subtleties of texture and colour, and giddy sense of spectacle. What the Bournemouth strings may marginally lack in terms of tonal heft is more than compensated for by some deliciously deft and rhythmically spry articulation throughout, and Prokofiev's distinctive writing for low winds and brass, timpani and bass drum is delivered with especial aplomb. Karabits and his tireless band also lavish much care and affection on the Fourth Symphony, an underrated score that grew out of the 1928-29 ballet The Prodigal Son and which Prokofiev comprehensively overhauled in 1947 (we get the tauter 1930 original version here). The early (1910) symphonic poem, Dreams, has rarely sounded lovelier. Throw in some helpfully detailed, vividly realistic engineering, and it all adds up to a hearty recommendation.
–Andrew Achenbach