I have a number of recordings of the Alexander Nevsky (one even narrated by Christopher Plummer, and an excellent recording it is) and I have to admit that it is hard to find a bad recording of the work. There are treasures to find in each one, though the interpretations by the various conductors are quite different. Gergiev brings a very unique interpretation to this work, making it almost as intense as Russian Litergy music. The chorus is just as much a "star" as the orchestra. His approach is gentiler, but no less intense than other interpretation. I find the music extremely moving. Olga Borodina, who sings in only one selection in the entire disk (the field of the dead), so for those buying it for her, you are not going to get a very long time to enjoy her voice, however, what you hear is breathtaking. One thing I really enjoy is she knows the language she is singing. There are other recordings where the mezzo is not Russian, nor is that language naturally her own (even if she does speak it somewhat), and it is so nice to hear subtlies and inflections in the language one often misses. Her voice is very beautiful, and in this case, the fact she stays away from a large heroic sound only adds to the tenderness of the moment.
The ballet suit, Scythian Suite, is quite a departure for Prokofiev. It was written earlier in his career, and yes, at times he sounds more like Stravinsky than Stravinsky does. It is interesting that once he wrote this ballet, and found a voice in that "modernism", he abandoned it. His style from that point on became more traditional (but by no means old fashioned, he was still very much a man of his times). I have only heard one other recording of this piece, so I am not that well versed on it, however, this performance is quite exciting. Perhaps it isn't as "noisy" as some would enjoy, but for me, that is what makes this interpretation exciting. At last, instead of an overwhelming ocean of sound, one has the treat of hearing the delicate impressions made by the various parts of the orchestra. This piece was written for a huge orchestra, and unlike some often think, large doesn't always mean a mish-mash of sound, the orchestra can play very cleanly and every part be heard clearly. Gergiev accomplishes this incredibly well.
My only complaint with this recording comes with the booklet that accompanies the disk. The little essay in the beginning is wonderful, and the translations of the Russian are very good, the problem is the numbering. Within the "libretto" of the Alexander Nevsky one finds little numbers, like we always find in CD recordings. However, unlike we find in most recordings, those numbers do not coordinate with the tracks of the disk. For example: the booklet says that Olga Borodina will sing in 6. However, what do they mean? If you go to track 6 you will not find her there. She is actually singing in track 10. The little numbers in the libretto are not indications of the playing tracks but rather the parts of the work itself. This inconsistency can be momentarily confusing, but it is not impossible to figure out.
One thing I miss in the little booklets is some information on the performers. Some of them, even if sort of well known, are not so well known we know all there is to know about them. I personally don't know much about either Olga Borodina, or Valery Gergiev, nor do I really know much about the Mariinsky Theatre Chorus. For me, I find it adds to the enjoyment of a work when I know a little about the performers. I miss this, and I think it is sad that recording companies will spend tons of pages describing a work we have all heard a million times (that is not the case this time, fortunately) and know the history of as well as we know our own lives, then ignore the fact the performers may be complete strangers to us. The essays, particularly in operas, are often long winded and repetitive (as we have all heard it a billion times -- what new facts can they give about Aida or the Marriage of Figaro, absolutely none) and well, the success of the performance at hand falls one hundred percent on the performers of the moment. It would be so nice if these "new faces" could become familiar to us so we could cherish them as we cherish others in the past.
All in all, an excellent recording (the sound is true and well balanced), the interpretation is exciting, and the accomplishment of the performers is deserving of praise. It is worth the money.