Saturday, October 29, 2011

Prokofiev and Shostakovich: Czech Philharmonic

Here is Prokofiev's Symphony-Concerto, together with Shostakovich's First Cello Concerto, with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra under Karel Ančerl. Miloš Sádlo is the cellist. I am guessing the recording dates from the 50s or the 60s, but I'm still trying to verify exactly when.

Supraphon is a solidly good music label from the recordings I've heard. Czech orchestras so often have a great sound, particularly in the woodwinds. I've heard quite a few excellent Mahler recordings on Supraphon. One of my first postings on this site was a Martinu recording with Neumann (see here).  I'd eventually like to post Martinu's Fourth, one of my favorites.

Anyway, this recording features excellent cello playing. The sound quality is just fine, including the balance of solo instrument to orchestra. The Prokofiev piece is not too often performed. It was first written around the time the composer was receiving harsh criticism for his compositions; he shelved it and later revised the piece to its present form. It has quite a lot of good passages and is well worth playing a few times to understand it better. Prokofiev has great violin and piano concertos - he is a wizard in this genre in quite a few of his compositions.

The Shostakovich concerto is an especially engaging piece - most of Shostakovich's concertos are. He shows a playfulness with the concerto form that you only see in some of his symphonies. I recommend hearing this along with his concertos for violin and piano. Last year I posted the Fifteenth Symphony in time for Halloween (see here).  This year I thought to post the Fourth Symphony, but this recording is a much rarer find.

For more information on the great Karel Ančerl, see here.

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