Both the Symphony No.6 and No.7 have often been criticized as being musically inferior to the first five of Prokofiev's symphonies, perhaps due to pressure the composer was receiving from the repressive Stalinist regime. Despite this, I have always liked them both, particularly the more complex Symphony No.6.
From the sound of it, I am guessing that this symphony is not easy to interpret.
Compared to this work, Prokofiev's much vaunted Fifth is structurally and emotionally fairly straight forward. On both of these levels, the No.6, or at least the opening movement of it, is all over the place! I believe the best way to approach and appreciate this wonderful work would be to closely follow what might be best described as the "mood shifts" that occur within it. At one moment the mood is dark, sometimes bordering on despair, at other times, "hopeful" and, finally, in the last movement,"frivolous" and "gay". Question: after all that you have heard in the first two movements and part of the third, do you believe the composer was really all that "happy and gay" or do you think he's just putting on a good front?
My favorite recording of the Symphony No.6 is Eugene Ormandy's formerly on CBS and now apparently lost somewhere in Sony's basement! Ormandy was a noted interpreter of Prokofiev (also of Kodaly,Rachmaninoff, Sibelius and Respighi!)and Sony should make all of his great recordings available to the world!
This is the best I've heard of several recordings currently available, including one by Neeme Jarvi and another by Andrew Litton. I think that maestro Kuchar is generally more patient and sensitive to the shifting emotional nuances than the others; not quite as sensitive as Eugene Ormandy.
One of the "flaws" I mentioned is Kuchar's lack of sympathy for the doleful melody that precedes the march the end first movement. I believe that this particular section, with its poignant message of both "hope" and "resignation" defines the entire work.
On the whole, this performance is first-rate!