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Symphony No.5 the Year 1941

Alsop; Sao Paulo State Symphony (Osesp) , Prokofiev Sergei Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Written in 1944, Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony is one of his greatest and most complete symphonic statements. At its premi+¨re he himself called it "a symphony of the grandeur of the human spirit". The first movement couples considerable strength with unexpected yet highly characteristic twists of melody. After a violent scherzo followed by a slow movement of sustained lyricism, with a fiercely dramatic middle section, the finale blazes with barely suppressed passion. The Year 1941 is another wartime work, a symphonic suite written in response to the German invasion of the Soviet Union. This is the first volume of a complete cycle of the Prokofiev Symphonies with the OSESP and Marin Alsop, the orchestra's newly appointed Principal Conductor.Marin Alsop made history with her appointment as the 12th Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. With her inaugural concerts in September 2007, she became the first woman to head a major American orchestra. Her appointment as Principal Conductor of the S+£o Paulo Symphony Orchestra (OSESP), starting in 2012, marks another historic appointment for her. Having released more than fifty CDs, OSESP has become an inseparable part of S+£o Paulo and Brazilian culture, promoting deep cultural and social transformations. In 2008 Gramophone magazine included OSESP in a list of three emerging orchestras to which attention should be paid.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Grand new recording from an unexpected source! Aug. 13 2012
Format:Audio CD
Almost every classical listener who has been paying attention knows of the high quality work of conductor Marin Alsop. I have had the good fortune to see and hear Marin live and she really is a gifted conductor with a particular talent for the music of the twentieth century to the present. Alsop is the music director of the Baltimore Symphony and has already begun to steer that ensemble into the ranks of one of America's finest. This very satisfying new recording of two of Prokofiev's best scores provides some grand listening moments but with a couple of surprises. First of all, Marin Alsop is also the newly appointed principal conductor of the present Sao Paolo Symphony Orchestra and they play very well indeed under her direction. I do not think I have heard the OSESP ever before and this is certainly a very impressive introduction. The music itself is, of course, grand in every way but the "surprise" here is the "Symphonic Suite, op. 90, 'The Year 1941'" This pro-Russian patriotic suite was intended to extol the Russian forces in their holding back of the Germans at the western boundary; the Russian Front. Ironically, everyone from Stalin to Myaskovsky to Shostakovich had considered it a fairly weak score and not really befitting of the events it sought to laud. However, it is still vintage and characteristic Prokofiev and full of wonderfully full moments. Prokofiev later used the score for a soundtrack to a propaganda film (of sorts), "Partisans in the Ukrainian Steppes" The "Symphony #5" is a much better known score and most count it among the composers finest works. This recording fares quite well. The second movement, allegro marcato, and the third, adagio, are particularly strong under Alsop's baton. Read more ›
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As usual, Naxos wins July 13 2012
By Laszlo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
If Naxos has become my favorite label (I have a whole wall full of their stuff) is simply because they have always been creative and, with time, they keep getting better and better.

You might think the Sao Paulo Symphony orchestra (OSESP) is a "third-world" orchestra (tsk, tsk, some prejudice there?). As demonstrated in other recordings (e.g., BIS) they are simply fabulous (through recordings, Mexican, Venezuelan and Brazilian orchestras have demonstrated their quality many times during the last decades).

Now, to be specific: if you did not hear about Prokofiev's Op 90 (The Year 1941) is probably because the work is utterly UNmemorable. Composed when he and others were evacuated to the Caucasus, it was premiered in 1943 with failing notices. Still, it is a very compelling opening piece on this program given the "warring" atmosphere of both works.

The 5th symphony is a masterpiece (have you noticed how many 5th symphonies are truly masterful?) and a memorable work; therefore, there is lot of competition around. But this recording can share place with the top. Not only are the interpretation and playing superb, the sound is (again) extraordinary. Listen to the last two minutes of the first movement and hold on to your seat!

Which brings me to Marin Alsop. Not only has she demonstrated admirable versatility but she has become a first class conductor, well respected througout the world. Deservedly so. I bought this based on the reputation amassed by these interpreters, my love for the 5th and the curiosity on how this team works.
It works marvellously and NAXOS should be congratulated.

I hope there are more recodings of Alsop and the OSESP in the can. How about some Brazlian under-recorded repertoire? Obrigado!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Not Amazing Dec 14 2012
By D. Powers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This version of Symphony #5 is good but not amazing or overwhelming. Before I bought this album, the reviews seemed to suggest that this version would open up new vistas on the Symphony. It doesn't. It is a good version and Marin Alsop does a good job. Great sound as usual from Naxos. Just not eye-opening as many reviews have tended to suggest.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grand new recording from an unexpected source! Aug. 13 2012
By Daniel R. Coombs - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Almost every classical listener who has been paying attention knows of the high quality work of conductor Marin Alsop. I have had the good fortune to see and hear Marin live and she really is a gifted conductor with a particular talent for the music of the twentieth century to the present. Alsop is the music director of the Baltimore Symphony and has already begun to steer that ensemble into the ranks of one of America's finest. This very satisfying new recording of two of Prokofiev's best scores provides some grand listening moments but with a couple of surprises. First of all, Marin Alsop is also the newly appointed principal conductor of the present Sao Paolo Symphony Orchestra and they play very well indeed under her direction. I do not think I have heard the OSESP ever before and this is certainly a very impressive introduction. The music itself is, of course, grand in every way but the "surprise" here is the "Symphonic Suite, op. 90, 'The Year 1941'" This pro-Russian patriotic suite was intended to extol the Russian forces in their holding back of the Germans at the western boundary; the Russian Front. Ironically, everyone from Stalin to Myaskovsky to Shostakovich had considered it a fairly weak score and not really befitting of the events it sought to laud. However, it is still vintage and characteristic Prokofiev and full of wonderfully full moments. Prokofiev later used the score for a soundtrack to a propaganda film (of sorts), "Partisans in the Ukrainian Steppes" The "Symphony #5" is a much better known score and most count it among the composers finest works. This recording fares quite well. The second movement, allegro marcato, and the third, adagio, are particularly strong under Alsop's baton. (Prokofiev often wrote both frenetic scherzo like passages as well as beautiful but longing slow movements that shine. See his ballet scores in particular) I enjoyed this recording a great deal! Some of my personal favorites are the Slatkin, St. Louis, Bernstein, New York and the Ormandy, Philadelphia. Rather than try to compare this recording with any of those (and other) historic chestnuts, I strongly recommend this disc to anyone wanting to hear a really fine orchestra you may not be familiar with as well as to hear for yourself why Marin Alsop is truly one of the country's best with a growing international reputation.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting filler doesn't outweigh a Prokofiev Fifth that doesn't come near to rivaling the best May 7 2014
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
It was a happy choice for Marin Alsp and the Sao Paolo SO to get together - she brought an international reputation to Brazil's best orchestra, and we get the benefit of hearing an ensemble of quality that was previously overlooked. There are no quibbles about how well the orchestra plays on their new Prokofiev CD, and Naxos's recorded sound is good enough to compete with almost anyone's. As a bargain Prokofiev symphony cycle, this one should fit the bill when it concludes.

But the Prokofiev Fifth has a long track record on disc, and some collectors may feel that owning Koussevitzky, Bernstein, and Karajan, to name three notable examples, fills out all we need to hear. Among the Russian conductors, who have made Prokofiev as popular on concert programs as Mendelssohn (I consulted a catalog of 4,200 broadcast concerts from the U.S. and Europe), it's a surprise that Gergiev's two accounts - one with the LSO, the other with the Mariinsky Orch. - are somewhat stolid, but to compensate, there's a magnificent recording by Vladimir Jurowski that's now my first choice.

In this company, Alsop seems polished but underpowered, unwilling to really dig into the score for the excitement and drama it contains. There have been similarly civilized Fifths in the past, especially Szell's, often cited as a classic but too contained even by comparison with non-Russians like Simon Rattle and James Levine, two others who excel in this music. Alsop takes a balletic view, reminding us that the symphony owes a great deal to the idiom of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, and her approach yields some lovely moments in the second and third movements. For me, these aren't enough to outweigh the passages of routine music-making.

The makeweight is a three-movement orchestral suite, The Year 1941, which is credibly performed in ballet style, especially the sprightly last movement. When he was assigned to write a score around the theme of the devastating German invasion of Russia, it must have been a shock for Prokofiev to produce a score this breezy and inconsequential - in fact, it received cool reviews at the time. Did he dust off some manuscript pages lying around his dacha? It's interesting to hear the work once or twice, but I doubt that anyone would purchase this CD just for its filler when the performance of the main work is only "serviceable," to quote one London reviewer.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prokofiev, Osesp, Marin Alsop July 22 2012
By Roberto Carvalho De Magalhaes - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This recording is absolutely fantastic. Prokofiev's Symphony n.5 is a great and well known work and it would be somewhat worthless to comment on it here. If you like Prokofiev and want a great recording of this symphony, this very recent cd with the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marin Alsop is what you're looking for. The orchestra has reached an amazing level and power under the direction of John Neschling, from 1997 to 2008. Although Marin Alsop, one of the most interesting personalities in the present classical music world, has become principal conductor of the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra only in February 2012, this cd was recorded in Sao Paulo in 2011. Laszlo "CD Explorer" will be glad to know that this cd is only the first of the complete series of Prokofiev's symphonies with the same orchestra and the same conductor. Looking forward to listening to the next. The Osesp is also recording the complete symphonies by Heitor Villa-Lobos, with the Brazilian conductor Isaac Karabtchevsky, for Naxos. Another adventure to look forward to.
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