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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 2 September 2007
This compilation represents good value for money and at just over 77 minutes the playing time is rather longer than the 1 hour suggested by the previous reviewer.
Those who are new to Prokofiev will probably only recognise 'The Montagues and the Capulets' from the 'Romeo and Juliet' ballet and 'Troika' from 'Lieutenant Kije', a piece regularly used on television at Christmas time because of its sleigh theme. Some people may be surprised that 'Peter and the Wolf' isn't present even in part. I feel however that this is a work best heard in its entirety and at around 25-30 minutes would take up too much disc space leaving only little room for other music. The other pieces that are present may not be as well known as the forementioned but they're equally enjoyable. It was a few years ago that I first listened to this compilation and some of the pieces that were new to me at that time have become my favourites. Cinderella is a wonderful ballet, it captures the mood of the story perfectly. The beautiful 'Cinderella's Waltz' conjures up an image of Cinderella and the prince completely lost in state of blissful happiness as they dance away the night ever closer to Cinderella's deadline. As the clock strikes twelve o' clock the urgency of Cinderella's plight is again captured brilliantly in 'Midnight' with its tick tock clock theme.
Other high points include the first and fourth movements of the delightful first symphony (named 'Classical Symphony' because it's fashioned in the style of music of the eighteenth century), the catchy, hummable second movement of the 'fifth symphony' and the brilliant first movement of 'piano concerto no.3'. It's also welcome that the 'Montagues and the Capulets' is the slightly longer version taken from the complete ballet (usually titled 'Dance of the Knights' in the complete ballet). Unfortunately the 'Overture on Hebrew themes' (another personal favorite) is not present but you can't have everything in a single disc release.
Audiophiles shouldn't have too much to complain about. The DDD recordings are typical of this Naxos range. They are good quality with lack of background hiss. If I were being ultra critical I would say that they're slightly echoey and distant compared to the very best recordings but this is nit picking, especially when taking the price of the disc into consideration. The ringing sounds from the percussion in the 'Love for Three Oranges march' and the piccolo in 'Midnight' are nicely audable which is something which can't be said about all the recordings I've heard of these two pieces.
Some of the conductors interpretations are a little slower than my favourite conductors but again this is being ultra critical. Certainly none of the playing is dull.
All things considered this is a very worthwhile purchase.
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Sergei Prokofiev, 1891-1953, Russian.

"My mother had to explain that one couldn't compose a Liszt rhapsody because it was a piece of music that Liszt himself had composed". (Sergei Prokofiev)

This Naxos CD is aimed at the beginner or occasional classical music listener and aims to provide a cross section of the entire works of Prokofiev on a single CD of around one hour duration. It's difficult of course to achieve a satisfactory representation of a composer's lifetime achievements in such short time, but this CD does achieve its aim in that it offers an affordable introduction to Prokofiev which may enable the listener to either pursue these works further, or simply to collect the entire Naxos `Best Of' range.

If the intention is to collect the series it will provide a good, although slightly abbreviated, library of classical music. Those requiring further listening are helped by the sleeve notes which give recommended further listening (all Naxos label CD's of course!).

It should be noted that the Naxos 2CD `Very Best Of' releases offer slightly better value than the single CD versions in this `Best Of' series.

That said, this is a good introduction to classical music for those on a careful budget.

The complete Naxos `Best Of' series (those indicated* also have `Very Best Of' releases):

Bach*, Bartok, Beethoven*, Berlioz, Bizet, Brahms, Chopin*, Debussy*, Dvorak*, Elgar*, Faure, Gershwin, Glazunov, Grieg*, Handel*, Haydn, Liszt, Lutoslawski, Mendelsshon, Mozart*, Paganini, Prokofiev, Puccini*, Rachmaninov*, Ravel*, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rossini, Saint-Saens, Schubert, Schumann, Satie*, Shostakovich*, Sibelius*, Strauss (Johann) II*, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky*, Verdi*, Vivaldi*, Wagner, Weber.
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on 11 March 2010
If you have steered clear of some of the serious 20th Century composers because of their po-face musical technician reputations then, like me, this disc may come as a pleasant surprise. I have to admit, I only bought this Naxos 'Best Of' after hearing the allegro from his first symphony on the radio and taking a liking to it. There is a good version of it on this record and, that Prokofiev somewhat apologetically called it his "Classical" symphony -perhaps to ward off claims of being 'old fashioned' by the critics - is indicative of much of his work showcased on this record. It is very 'modern' sounding music but retains the 'classical' notion of realizing musical ideas through catchy melodies. By 'modern' I mean that his music is very 'urban' and 'industrial', rather than the 'natural world' and 'pastoral' feel of much classical music before the dawn of the 20th Century. You can imagine a good deal of the music on this disc providing the soundtrack to newsreel footage of teeming city streets, construction projects and speeding conveyor belts of components on a production line. It is busy, clever and tuneful music but a long way from the unabashed emotions and passions of his Russian predecessors - Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Borodin, to name three. Mind you, when not composing with one eye on the critics, musicologists and that exclusive part of the audience that was wont to attach the epithet 'vulgar' to anything unseemingly popular, he could turn out something with the unbridled joy of the troika from 'Lieutenant Kije'-given a good performance on this disc by the Czecho-Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra.

I have to disagree slightly with the previous reviewer in that, for me, the two weak tracks on this disc are the waltzes - 'Cinderella's Waltz' and 'Waltzes,Suite For Orchestra-Since We Met'. Prokofiev's quick, busy and, at times, almost jazzy musical imagination doesn't sit well with the demands of a good waltz for a smooth swinging rhythm and flowing melodies. To my ears his two waltzes on this disc have a somewhat unnatural jerky feel to them. Whatever, I've given the disc five stars because it exceeded all my expectations, there's a lot of good music to enjoy on it, and Prokofiev was obviously a smart guy and would expect nothing short of top marks.
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on 20 January 2016
Christmas present happily received, although needs to be coupled with other music as it's a bit light on compositions
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on 13 February 2016
Very enjoyable collection - hadn't realised that the music for the ballet Cinderella was his work.
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on 10 April 2016
love this CD love Prokofiev's music perfect thank you.
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on 6 October 2014
Retuned it for refund as the music featured only highlights of Prokofiev's music and I don't o highlights!
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on 20 March 2015
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on 10 December 2014
Great ...
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on 8 September 2014
It wasn't what I wanted and the playing was not the standard I had antipated.
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