BOISMORTIER: Sonatas for Harposichord and Transverse Flute,
PROKOFIEV: Ten Pieces from Romeo and Juliet. HINDEMITH: Theme
and Four Variations "The Four Temperaments."
PROKOFIEV" Symphony No. 6 in E flat minor, Op. 111. Lieutenant
Opl 60. Love for Three Oranges Suite, Op. 33b
French baroque composer Joseph Bodin de Boismortier (1689-1755) was a major figure during the early 18th century. He composed prolifically, operas, ballets, vocal music and many concertos, particularly for the flute. With his Op. 15 flute concertos, Boismortier was the first French composer to use the Italian concerto form. In , followed in 1742 by the six sonatas of Op. 91, considered to be among his finest works. All are heard on this splendid new Carlo Mitis SACD, and pleasant though they may be, there is little memorable here in spite of the spirited performances, rather like lovely inconsequential French salon music. Audio is fine, with performers close up, in front.
Russian pianist Sergey Koudriakoe is featured in another Caro Mitis CD, a SACD offering ballet music of Prokofiev and Hindemith. From the former's magnificent Romeo and Juliet, combine in 1935, we hear ten excerpts for solo piano. This has been recorded many times, and there is no question the music benefits enormously from rich orchestral sounds. Filling out the disk we have Hindemith's Theme and Four Variations composed at the request of George Balanchine and premiered at the opening performance of the Ballet Society of New York in 1946—this group eventually became the New York City Ballet. Scored for piano and small string orchestra, Theme and Variations has four movements following the statement of the theme: Melancholy, Sanguine, Phlegmatic, and Cholerie. Koudriakoe is an excellent pianist throughout, joined by strings of the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra directed by Tsinman for the Hindemith. Excellent audio as usual with this label, but I imagine most listeners will find little of interest here—it is a rather short but expensive SACD.
Prokofiev composed his Symphony No. 6 in 1946-1947. For the last eight years of his life (he died in 1953) he suffered from brain damage, had headache s and was told to avoid all excitement. However, he couldn't stop composing, and this symphony was his major work. There are three movements, filled with dark brooding, dissonance only briefly interrupted by typical spiky "Prokofiev" interludes. It deserves to be heard more often. The Bergen Philharmonic has been finely honed by its music director, Andrew Litton, who has been its conductor for a decade. They surely are in top form here, as they were in a recent Chandos SACD of Berlioz overtures conducted by Sir Andrew Davis (REVIEW). This generously filled Prokofiev disk also includes the original form of the Lieutenant Kijé Suite featuring a very authentic-sounding Andrei Bondarenko as baritone soloist, and the usual suite from The Love for Three Oranges. SACD audio is clear but rather distant, with exceptionally wide dynamic range. The opening of Kijé is very soft and when those famous bass drum whacks arrive they are almost too loud. Collectors will fondly remember audiophile excitement when RCA issued the 1957 Reiner/Chicago recording of this music, which displayed richness and balance not experienced here. Chandos engineers captured a more resonant, brighter sound than what is heard on this new BIS release.
R.E.B. (March 2013)