Prokofiev: Symphony No 3 in C minor, Op 44; Chout, Op 21; Violin Concerto No 1 in D major, Op 19; Dreams, Op 6

Reviewed on Fri 12 Oct, 2018

Vadim Repin takes time to settle into the First Violin Concerto but the scherzo is brilliant and the finale rises to a fervent climax before returning us to the fairy tale mood of the Concerto’s opening.

I recently had the good fortune to chance upon a stereo transcription of Gennady Rozhdestvensky’s thrilling Philharmonia Prokofiev Third from the early 1960s (I actually heard the original relay go out on the night), and Alexander Lazarev's live 1997 LPO version is by far the most dramatic performance of the score, my second favourite amongst the symphonies, that I have heard since then. In this context the work opens with shocking immediacy, leading to unsettling middle movements and a juggernaut finale that takes no hostages. Vadim Repin takes time to settle into the First Violin Concerto but the scherzo is brilliant and the finale rises to a fervent climax before returning us to the fairy tale mood of the Concerto’s opening. As for the ballet Chout and its loutish storyline coarsely declaimed by the excellent Simon Callow (with few enough words not to spoil the musical fun), Lazarev captures the score’s belligerent mood like no one else bar Rozhdestvensky (on Melodiya), the finale accelerating wildly. John Drummond wisely swapped the accepted translation ‘buffoon’ for ‘fool’, although had Tony Hancock been around he would have been the ideal narrator for the former option. He used the word often enough in his shows! The ten-minute tone poem Rêves makes for warming close to a fine sequence of performances. Strongly recommended.
–Rob Cowan