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Prokofiev: Alexander Nevsky Cantata / Lieutenant Kijé Suite

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Prokofiev: Alexander Nevsky Cantata / Lieutenant Kijé Suite + Prokofiev: Complete Symphonies
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Product details

  • Audio CD (18 Dec 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Telarc Classics
  • ASIN: B000003CUA
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 123,791 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. I. Russia Beneath The Yoke Of The Mongols
2. II. Song About Alexander Nevsky
3. III. The Crusaders In Pskov
4. IV. 'Arise, People Of Russia'
5. V. The Battle On The Ice
6. VI. The Field Of The Dead
7. VII. Alexander's Entry Into Pskov
8. I. Kije's Birth
9. II. Song
10. III. Kije's Wedding
11. IV. Troika Song
12. V. Kije's Burial

Product Description

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I must admit that I was really seeking the recording featuring Galina Vishnevshaya but I wasn't a bit disappointed by mezzo-soprano Christine Cairns in that haunting scene, The Field of the Dead. A very fine recording, and that includes Lieutenant Kije, a lot of fun when you know the story.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 14 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
An Ebullient Pair of Performances that Still Rank with the Finest 2 Dec 2006
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
André Previn knows his way around these two very fine Prokofiev works, each being extracted from film scores yet from very different mindsets of the composer. 'Alexander Nevsky' was first supported by Stalin when it was written/filmed (perhaps explaining why the score is less 'modern' than most of Prokofiev's works), then withdrawn as inappropriate while WW II was brewing and finally returning as a national anthem when the Germans invaded Russia in 1941. It is that kind of a work - much Russian soul in the choral writing and much warring effort in the orchestral portions.

Previn conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale with Christine Cairns as the important soloist in this 1986 recording. The chorus may not have the dark depth of the Russian choruses on the many other recordings, but they make up for it in technique and commitment to the score where others blast their way through it. It is a very moving account of the 'cantata'.

The lighter, comic side of Prokofiev is present in his 'Lieutenant Kijé' suite, also a film score. Previn takes his time to highlight the many solo instances that add to the fine writing that makes this Prokofiev work a perennial favorite among audiences of all ages. The orchestral sound is polished and rich and the recording is well engineered. This is a fine recording of two disparate Prokofiev pieces to add to the collection. Grady Harp, December 06
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Russian film music 29 Nov 2005
By Brett A. Kniess - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Featured on this disk are two offerings from Sergei Prokofiev's jaunt into Russian film music. Most are familiar with Prokofiev's descriptive music for the stage, but these well-known film-based scores are a welcome addition to his dramatic genre.

Alexander Nevsky was a hero in the 1200's who defeated the Swedish army and later won out against a large army of Germans. A film was made by Sergei Eisenstein as propaganda for an impending conflict between Russia and Germany, and Prokofiev became the composer of the music. After Russia and Germany settled their affairs, Prokofiev wrote a cantata from the film music for the concert stage. The work begins with a slow (cold & icy) introduction leading into the Russians singing about Nevsky's win over Sweden. The scene continues to the German invaders singing/chanting in Latin as they pillage. The fourth movement is a call of arms for Russia with a cheerful and imaginative folk-like hymn. The Battle on the Ice is the crux of the work, overlapping the German's latin theme with the Russian theme. Prokofiev also graphically depicts the approaching armies musically, all of which erupts in joyous celebration at the victory. Following the battle is a heartfelt alto solo of a peasant woman looking for the man (or men) she was engaged to marry. Of course, the whole work ends in a rousing Russian chorale. The music is varied and imaginative, also seemingly steeped in the Russian folk idiom when the music calls for it. A dramatic and historically interesting work.

The suite from the film Lieutenant Kije, however, is much lighter fare. Prokofiev's great ability to write tuneful melodies exists in all movements. Lt. Kije's life is explained through the movements (Birth, romance, wedding, Troika, and burial). The orchestration is light with occasional sweeping breadth, featuring the tenor saxophone, a sultry sound in the work. The music is lively and engaging, a light masterpiece (the 70's rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer liked it so much they borrowed much of the music.)

This early digital recording by the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Andre Previn from 1987 still stands up today. The orchestra is light and beefy when it is required and the chorus in Nevsky is convincingly Russian. Previn tells each of these musical stories successfully and the music speaks well. Lt. Kije is standard orchestral repertoire and Alexander Nevsky should be, so this disk is an easy choice (although you will have to compare on your own to the Abbado on DG and Gergiev on Philips).
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Prokofiev, Previn, And The L.A. Philharmonic 26 Nov 2004
By Erik North - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Two of Sergei Prokofiev's best-known compositions of the 1930s were his massive score for the Sergei Eisenstein epic "Alexander Nevsky", and his smaller one for the ironic bureaucratic satire "Lieutenant Kije." Despite both being originally produced as essentially pro-Soviet tracts to please the Russian politburo, particularly that sage of stern political correctness Joseph Stalin, both works ("Nevsky" in its cantata form) have maintained their populairty. And both of these works are given world-class performances in this 1986 recording by Andre Previn and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

The Alexander Nevsky Cantata (which is all most people heard of Prokofiev's score until the last few years) is smashingly sung by the Los Angeles Master Chorale along with Scottish-born mezzo-soprano Christine Cairns. And Previn, whose time as music director was just too short, conducts the L.A. Philharmonic brilliantly in the cantata and the Lieutenant Kije Suite, particularly in its celebrated "Troika" movement (whose main theme was borrowed by Greg Lake for his 1975 Christmas standard "I Believe In Father Christmas"). It's not surprising that Previn should be so successful here; he is no stranger to Prokofiev's music, having recorded both pieces with the London Symphony Orchestra in the 1970s. A highly recommended recording for lovers of 20th century Russian music in general and Prokofiev in particular.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A very good performance of Nevsky, but Previn's earlier one is preferable 16 April 2011
By R. Nadel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Andre Previn is a great interpreter of Prokofiev's music. He recorded Alexander Nevsky twice, once in the 70's and again in 1987.

Some background: Previn's earlier recording with the London Symphony disappeared from the catalog by the '80s, when CDs were beginning to replace LPs. By the mid-'80s, Previn was Music Director in Los Angeles. As a subscriber, I really felt lucky to have Previn as the Music Director (after the great Giulini left). In 1987 they performed an innovative program, now much imitated, with the orchestra playing music live while the audience viewed a movie. For that concert they showed Eisenstein's famous film Alexander Nevsky while the LA Phil performed Prokofiev's soundtrack score, reconstructed for the concert. I attended that concert, and enjoyed the experience very much.

Previn and the LA Phil recorded this Nevsky on Telarc in conjunction with those concerts. This is a recording of the Cantata, however, not the reconstructed film score that accompanied the movie.

Ok, back to the present day: I enjoy the sound on this Telarc disc, but the earlier Previn recording of Nevsky, with the London Symphony, is a bit more exciting and involving.

In comparing the two Nevsky recordings, I find both orchestras are excellent and both choral groups and soloists are excellent. But I think the pacing in the later recording is influenced by the experience of accompanying the movie, it feels a bit stiff and deliberate by comparison to the earlier one.

Although the sound on this Telarc disc is superior to the earlier EMI recording, the remastered sound on the earlier Nevsky is still very good. When I listen to the older and newer recording side by side, I do like them both, but the older one is just more enjoyable for me.

For example, the Battle on the Ice on the earlier performance is more exciting, chaotic, animated. It begins with a greater sense of hushed tension. When the tension is released in the cacophony of the battle, I find myself holding my breath, so when the battle is over and the music reflects the horrible aftermath, I finally breath again. Also, Anna Reynolds is wonderful in "the Field of the Dead". Her performance is more heartrending than Christine Cairns' on the Telarc disc, although Cairns (who performed at the above-mentioned concert) sings beautifully.

The Lieutenant Kije on this disc is excellent, and I listen to it a lot. The digital sound, clearer than any other Kije I have ever heard, adds to the experience. I feel the percussion, and the brass sound as if they're here in the room with me. Previn provides great rhythmic swagger and propulsion. It's a great performance that I return to often.

I am glad I now have both discs, the earlier Nevsky (on EMI) and this newer Kije.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Excellent recording 28 May 2013
By Craig A. Swarts - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is an excellent recording by Andre Previn and the LA Philharmonic. Alexander Nevsky is a beautiful, stirring piece. and this is a fantastic version.
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