Russian conductor Tugan Sokhiev’s recording of two Prokofiev symphonies and the Lieutenant Kijé Suite dates from his tenure as Music Director at the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin.
Prokofiev composed the score for Lieutenant Kijé, an early Soviet ‘sound’ film in 1933, the satirical premise of which revolves around a non-existent lieutenant who nonetheless manages to achieve impressive life milestones. Lively, musically illustrative (military marches, sleigh rides) and totally accessible, it’s a perfect curtain-raiser for Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony, so called for its use of reconfigured Haydn-like forms. These indications also permeate Prokofiev’s Seventh and last symphony, presented here with its more usual reworked ending, which Prokofiev was persuaded by his friend Samuil Samosud (and substantial prize money) to amend from the sombre original (Gergiev’s 2004 recording with the LSO is an instructive comparison).
The sophistication of Prokofiev’s orchestrations and Sokhiev’s deft touch are highlighted by this excellent recording, which is crisp and sharp, with a very full bottom end and full spectrum of percussive richness. The dynamic variation is sprightly and delicate but still loaded with drama, fairly leaping out of the speakers as a result. Sokhiev’s earlier Sony recording of Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony was very well-received by critics; this companion set is sure to be as well.