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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
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on 21 July 2007
No offence to the reviewer beneath, but this is an altogether outstanding set, especially if you are new to Prokofiev's symphonies. Gergiev does go for relatively fast tempos but the effect in these remarkable scores is visceral and thrilling. The LSO play to their customary superb standard. These great works can seem clinical and cold in places but let us not forget that they are a product of their time and place in the Soviet world. I rate this version of No.5 above Karajan's mighty effort. Altogether, a superb take on some of the greatest 20th century symphonies.
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on 6 August 2011
I attended the performances of these symphonies at the Barbican, and they were some of the most thrilling that I have sat through. Gergiev understands the territory well enough, even if he can push, pull, and drive them in a way that distorts much of their carefully woven orchestral texture.

It was a huge disappointment to find, when the recordings were released, that the acoustic, and the recordings themselves, rob the performances of what communicated the most. The Barbican centre is a marginal, flawed venue at the best of times, and it is to the LSO's discredit that, through their own LSO LIVE label, they have saddled themselves with recordings which no where near fulfill their own potential. And here, Phillips engineers do battle, and fail to fill the missing sound world that is so gloriously available in the Chandos Neeme Jarvi set. I cannot recommend this set.
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on 25 August 2008
While I would not wish to discourage anyone from writing negative reviews anywhere on this site, a fellow reviewer gave this one star (ONE STAR, for God's sake...!!!) and prompted me to buy this set to compare with those I already have. It is clear from listening to these recordings even once (I have done more than that, I promise!) that Gergiev has a very sound understanding of his fellow Russian, Prokofiev, and he is very well recorded. The works I have a strong preference for - the last three symphonies - maybe do come off better in the hands of conductors I mention below, but it's swings and roundabouts, and while Gergiev sometimes sounds less "symphonic" in his approach (might I suggest more "balletic"?) he does make this music sound like Prokofiev!
To be honest, there are few sets of the Prokofiev Symphonies available. I adore the Jarvi set on Chandos, and this would have to be my first choice, having found the Ozawa (DGG) and Weller (Decca) sets a bit disappointing. If you can get hold of the Kosler set on Supraphon, then you will be fine, but Gergiev is hardly sub-standard, in repertoire where there is no obvious front runner. Bernstein's Mahler is hardly everyone's first choice, but doesn't he have something to say?
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on 10 April 2014
My top choice for a complete set of Prokofiev symphonies remains the SNO Jarvi readings on Chandos, which are a superb artistic and sound recording achievement. This Gergiev live cycle recorded in the Barbican is overall a fine set of performances, valuable like Jarvi in including the original and revised versions of the fourth,and my only very slight concern is that the sound engineering, which clearly bothers some listeners more than myself, is not quite as naturally full and spacious as I would have liked but I adjust to it quickly (have this set in its first Philips issue from 2006 which may or may not make a difference) and I would add that the orchestral details emerge through my equipment with sufficient bass resonance and sparkling top notes and with enough sense of sound depth not to impair listening. I was also fortunate to hear the LSO and Gergiev perform the complete cycle at the Edinburgh Festival a few years after these London recordings were made and I was left in no doubt by the live concerts I experienced as I am by these recordings that these are significant readings of the symphonies. I can think of several single disc recordings of the first and fifth particularly that I would recommend before Gergiev, but that is not intended as a major criticism as both are very impressive performances, yet it is simply a reminder that there are some truly great readings of these two works in particular which stand out from the crowd. Although, as we are comparing complete cycles and my only other complete set is Jarvi, all I would add is that I find Gergiev conducts with distinction, shaping performances that are memorable: not least in the very fine playing he secures from the LSO .
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on 10 February 2007
I rate Gergiev alot and have seen him conduct in Moscow twice so I was really looking forward to renewing my acquaintance with these great, great symphonies through this CD. It is massively disappointing though. Although the orchestra is highly polished to the point of being clinical, there is no passion or love in their playing. Sure there are one or two satisfying moments such as the main theme of the slow movement of number 5, but that doesn't make up for the fact that overall I can honestly say that I did not find one movement of one symphony that I would like to listen to again.

Gergiev often takes everything at such a speed that no-one, including the listener has the slightest hope of taking in the scenery and fully entering into the various mood changes so deftly handled by Prokofiev throughout the entire range of his symphonic output. Gergiev's meticulousness with regards to the structure of a work in relation to climax points,and to the clarity of individual lines is to be admired and works brilliantly with Bruckner, Beethoven or Mahler to name but three but I wish that he would let himself and the orchestra off of the tight leash he keeps everything on. Prokofiev's music needs a bit of wildness in it's interpretation to match the quirkiness and unpredictability that makes his music such a joy. If you think I ask for too much then listen to Vladimir Ashkenazy's or Neeme Jarvi's versions and you will find that it is eminently possible to satisfy both approaches simultaneously.

Lastly, if you are getting to know these symphonies for the first time then please don't buy this version.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 March 2010
None of the previous reviewers have commented on the awful recorded sound-this set is being sold not at LSO own label price, but at FULL price. The recorded sound is harsh and constricted.
Gergiev has has moments of course, but there is nothing revelatory about these performances , where Gergiev seems to think that whipping up the tempo is main interpretative strand! I prefer the earlier version of the 4th symphony, but not on this set!
There are other seta available which are superior in interpretation and recorded sound for a lot less money- Weller, Ashkenazy, Ozawa (great playing and sound at least, performances iffy)-if a set by one conductor is what you must have!
If this is the case, my I suggest Kitajenko with the superb Gurzenich-Koln orchestra on Phoenix and available from amazon, which has beautifully paced dramatic and emotional readings by turn, stunningly played in sumptuous recorded sound-at a lot less money!!
What a disappointment-the Romeo & juliet has similar but not as extreme traits and better recorded sound, fortunately. I'd give this set a miss unless you are a slavish Gergiev admirer who wants everything recorded, warts and all! This is all warts! Stewart Crowe
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