Prokofiev: Cinderella (complete ballet); Pas d'acier (suite) USSR Radio and TV Large Symphony Orchestra / Gennadi Rozhdestvensky (Recorded 1966) (Consonance / Koch 81-5002; two CDs)
Friday 25 August 1995
Musically, Cinderella trades the sweep of Romeo and Juliet for a drier, wittier, more acerbic style of writing, with tart orchestration and a typically bitter-sweet tinge to the melodies. Try the Father's furious quarrel with his new wife and step-daughters, or the wind-blown antics of the Spring and Autumn Fairies. "Midnight" has woodblocks snap loudly on the tail of a luscious Waltz-Coda, whereas the score's gentler numbers (the Slow Waltz and closing "Amoroso" in particular) glide forth as if caught in a mood of inconsolable melancholy.
A shame to break the spell, even if the fill-up - Rozhdestvensky's impressive first recording of the Pas d'acier suite - provides gritty reportage of the ultimate in Twenties musical futurism. It's a "heavy industrial", rhythmically insistent piece, very much in the manner of the Scythian Suite. Again, the transfer is crude, but once in full production, these Eisensteinian workers will brook absolutely no shirking.
Although best-known for instigating a legendary series of wartime concerts at London's National Gallery, Dame Myra Hess was also an extraordinarily gifted pianist. In fact, her finest records are fully on a par with those of Benno Moiseiwitsch or Solomon (to name just two of her most accomplished contemporaries), and this worthily engineered selection presents repertoire that especially suited her talents.
Best is Schumann's Carnaval, a delectable sequence of cameo portraits where Dame Myra displays a sensitive touch, tasteful rubato and a lilting turn of phrase. There's ample virtuosity, too ("Papillons"), as well as grandeur ("March of the Davidsbundler against the Philistines") and humour ("Lettres dansantes"). Hardly less impressive are a Scriabinesque Album Leaf by Hess's celebrated teacher Tobias Matthay and Howard Ferguson's versicoloured F minor Piano Sonata, a sizeable statement that's particularly rich in contrapuntal interest.
Then there's an insightful sequence of late Brahms Intermezzi, a nimble Scarlatti Sonata and Hess's signature tune, her own eloquent voicing of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring", here shaved just a little close to its first note but otherwise sounding as serenely peaceful as I'd remembered it. Those wartime audiences must have been profoundly comforted.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 Doctors remove 80 teeth from boy's jaw
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
- 5 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
Exodus: Gods and Kings banned in the UAE for 'religious mistakes'
Game of Thrones is most-pirated TV show of 2014
Doctor Who and the BBC 'promoting a gay agenda', viewers complain
Idris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk