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Classical review: Marin Alsop/SPSO, Prokofiev Symphony 4/‘The Prodigal Son’ (Naxos)


The Prodigal Son was Prokofiev’s fourth and final ballet score for Diaghilev, whose death in the year of its first performance, 1929, ended the great collaborations of composers and artists at the Ballets Russes.

Based on the biblical parable, with added seductress and minus the resentful brother, the exit, fall, and return of the reckless boy prompt 10 dances, which also underpin Symphony No 4. So, the son’s riotous new friends appear in the symphony’s first movement, and the seductress from Scene II winds her way into the playful, angular third.

Alsop’s players spin a convincing yarn, with long lines pushing far beyond the safety of the family home, and they bring the whole to an exhilarating reconciliation.