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Thread: Prokofiev Symphony 7

  1. #16
    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    I have read that, after taking a beating from The Powers That Be for his 6th symphony--the Soviet regime found much to hate in that work--Prokofiev was given a commission to write a simple symphony for either a children's orchestra or for an audience of children (I don't remember which; probably doesn't matter). A sort of self-imposed rehabilitation. The result was the 7th, and it is rather subdued compared with its predecessors, but still P's gift for melody shines forth, especially in that first movement.
    Not commissioned for children, but he did begin it with an audience of children in mind. It is not clear, however, whether or to what extent he fulfilled that intention.

    The Seventh Symphony stands in the same relation to 5 and 6 as the Ninth Piano Sonata does to the War Sonatas (6, 7, & 8), and if one is looking for a valedictory work by Prokofiev, the Ninth Sonata is, IMO, by far the better work. It was composed during his last period of relatively good health (summer 1947). It is mellow without being lightweight.

    The Seventh Symphony sounds to me like the fruits of raiding old notebooks and ballet sketches and what overall unity it has is perfunctory, rounding off the structure without really tying together vital threads, if indeed there are vital threads. Symphonies 5 & 6 and Sonatas 6 & 8, along with the First Violin Sonata, on the other hand, are late essays in comprehensive unity with thematic returns that are dramatically motivated and powerful. The Seventh Symphony is more suite-like and lightweight.
    Last edited by EdwardBast; May-14-2016 at 22:00.

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    Senior Member clavichorder's Avatar
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    Thanks for the recommendation on sonata 9. I have yet to listen to it. Preferred recordings?
    Last edited by clavichorder; May-14-2016 at 22:15.

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    Senior Member Il_Penseroso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clavichorder View Post
    Thanks for the recommendation on sonata 9. I have yet to listen to it. Preferred recordings?
    Richter for sure!
    In a world to be handled by gangsters and maniacs, art means nothing but just a junk food which there's no hope for human salvation through it... (Shāmlou)

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  6. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Il_Penseroso View Post
    My favorite recordings of this marvelous symphony:

    Ormandy and The Philadelphia Orchestra for the so-called happy ending (!) Prokofiev later wrote for the approval...

    Rozhdestvensky 1969 Recording for the original quiet ending (I don't know whether it's been reissued on CD or not...)
    Yes, the Rozhdestvensky has been remastered and reissued on CD by Melodiya in a boxed set of all his Prokofiev symphony recordings. It sounds great and remains my favourite version of this symphony.

    For my money, anyone who plays the appalling 'happy ending' has to be discounted straight away for their wanton failure to understand the work and why Prokofiev bowed to pressure and composed this alternative ending. There is at least one recording with BOTH endings on separate tracks, which is useful for comparison.

  7. #20
    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clavichorder View Post
    Thanks for the recommendation on sonata 9. I have yet to listen to it. Preferred recordings?
    Richter did the premier and he does it well. Peter Jablonski does a very nice, unfussy and lyrical 9th. Bronfman does it with a dramatic, sort of relentless(?), edge, but well thought out interpretation. I don't really have a preferred recording I guess. If Boris Giltburg ever gets around to recording it, I'd give that a listen; He is amazing on my favorite, the 8th.
    Last edited by EdwardBast; May-15-2016 at 15:05.

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  9. #21
    Senior Member WildThing's Avatar
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    I recently spent some time becoming better acquainted with Prokofiev's symphonic output, and I'm fully with the OP here. I was surprised how much I found myself enjoying his 7th given everything I had read about it being a kind of "capitulation" and "lightweight". Indeed, apparently it has always been enduringly popular in Russia and its not hard to hear why. Right from that wonderful opening melody that is so quintessentially Russian, it has a wonderful sense of something folksy and a kind of fairy tale quality about it. It may not be grand and heroic or deep and penetrating like the symphonies that precede it, but taken on its own terms it is completely satisfying. Lightweight? Frankly I don't care. The fact that it is so melodious and thoroughly entertaining is more than enough for me.
    Last edited by WildThing; Mar-14-2019 at 17:02.

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    I love the 7th, and prefer the original ending. All of Prokofieff's symphonies are worthy of attention, but it seems that only 1 &5 get played regularly. After 50 years of going to concerts I've still never encountered 2 or 4. I've played only 1, 5 & 7. For my taste, I think Prokofieff's symphonies are "better" than those of Shostakovich - purely as music, but the latter sure gets more attention.

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  13. #23
    Senior Member Kiki's Avatar
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    I don't see Prokofiev 7 as light weight either. There is a kind of very refined and elegant simplicity in it. Really love it.

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    Senior Member jim prideaux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiki View Post
    I don't see Prokofiev 7 as light weight either. There is a kind of very refined and elegant simplicity in it. Really love it.
    can only agree.....have already 'banged on' about this remarkably evocative work elsewhere....have never understood why some can appear so dismissive about it.
    'so where are the strong, who are the trusted and where is the harmony, sweet harmony?'
    (Nick Lowe)

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  17. #25
    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    I have always enjoyed the 7th - it was on one of the very first LPs I ever had. I love its broad singing quality. Even now I strongly prefer the Malko recording to any other than I have heard. I enjoy Rozhdestvensky in the others but find him too schmaltzy in 7.

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  19. #26
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    Like others on this thread, I consider Prokofiev's 7th to be an underrated symphony (along with the 9th Piano Sonata, which is one of my favorite works by Prokofiev). The two recordings that I listen to most are Nikolai Malko's classic 1950s EMI performance with the Philharmonia, and a recent live Onyx recording from Kyril Karabits and the Bournemouth S.O. If pressed to choose between them, I'd probably take Kyril Karabits' more expansive view of the work (and preferable sound quality)--but the two performances compliment each other well. Interestingly, Karabits includes both endings, using the quieter original ending that Prokofiev said he preferred, but also offering the 2nd ending as a final bonus track:

    Karabits: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ac6r...YBBrFw&index=5

    Malko: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rh0ud5pS3zo

    P.S. My favorite recordings of Prokofiev's 9th Piano Sonata are, first, the various recordings by Sviatoslav Richter--especially the following: November 16, 1956 Prague--Praga; 1958 Moscow--Monitor, Naxos, Urania, Le Chant de Monde, & Wergo labels; June 8, 1979 Moscow Great Hall of the Conservatory--Melodiya label; and, February 12, 1981 Tokyo--Memoria label. Prokofiev dedicated the 9th to Richter, so he's essential listening in this music. Nikolai Petrov's recording is worth hearing, too. Lastly, from the digital era, Matti Raekallio's recording on Ondine is exceptional. Here's what I could find on YT:

    Richter, 1956 Prague (Praga): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqLJSOgVVZA
    Richter, 1979 Moscow (Melodiya): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGhssirme7g
    Richter, 1981 Tokyo (Memoria): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_6t7SrlU5Y

    Petrov, 1972: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDNDUqGQn2E

    Raekallio, 1999: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-Th...coamE&index=43
    Last edited by Josquin13; Mar-15-2019 at 22:18.

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  21. #27
    Senior Member Malx's Avatar
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    The Malko recording is a classic - an early stereo recording if I remember correctly, the disc isn't close to hand for me to check. A recording that is always with me in the car.
    Last edited by Malx; Mar-15-2019 at 21:46.

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  23. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by clavichorder View Post
    Any other fans of this oddly marvelous work?
    If you want to explore some different versions of the Prokofiev 7th symphony there are a few (not yet mentioned) I believe may also be interesting to listen – Samuil Samosud with the All Russian RO (1953), Nicolai Anosov with the Czech PO (1954) and Vaclav Smetacek also with the Czech PO (1970).

    Samosud conducted the premiere and had a close connection with the composer. Anosov may have left one the more idiomatic readings (and despite the vintage mono the sound is still good). And although Smetacek may be a relatively unknown conductor I think his 1970 performance (in very good sound) is also well worth to look for (Le Chant du Monde /Praga).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TV-gtbeth3g

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mi0fEqFRTo
    Last edited by ccar; Mar-16-2019 at 14:12.

  24. #29
    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    It is a very nice work, I find it less harmonically spicy, and less unique, intense and colorful than 2-6. But for one looking for a less spiky, calmer side of Prokofiev, this work has those qualities. It does have some very beautiful melodic and harmonic content. I like it less than the others with the exception of 1.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WildThing View Post
    I recently spent some time becoming better acquainted with Prokofiev's symphonic output, and I'm fully with the OP here. I was surprised how much I found myself enjoying his 7th given everything I had read about it being a kind of "capitulation" and "lightweight". Indeed, apparently it has always been enduringly popular in Russia and its not hard to hear why. Right from that wonderful opening melody that is so quintessentially Russian, it has a wonderful sense of something folksy and a kind of fairy tale quality about it. It may not be grand and heroic or deep and penetrating like the symphonies that precede it, but taken on its own terms it is completely satisfying. Lightweight? Frankly I don't care. The fact that it is so melodious and thoroughly entertaining is more than enough for me.

    If you like the 7th symphony then maybe try Cinderella. There’s a problem with the 7th to do with the final movement, I can’t remember the details offhand but there are two versions of the last movement, and it makes quite a difference.

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