Vasily Petrenko conducts Prokofiev and Myaskovsky

This is a spectacularly successful series

Vasily Petrenko conducts Prokofiev and Myaskovsky

Russophiles will need no excuse to rush out and grab this latest disc from Vassily Peternko and the Oslo Philharmonic.

There are those that seem to hold a bit of a grudge against Prokofiev's Sixth Symphony (1945-6; its inception overlapped with the composition of the far more famous Fifth). While the First, Fifth and Seventh remain the most popular of his symphonic output, some ciritcs have been savage about the Sixth. It's perhaps not as approachable immediately as its comrades, but it does pack quite a punch. Listen to the wide-ranging first movement, full of post-war power (it was written 1945-47):

Petrenko makes a compelling argiment for the movement, just as he does in the Romantic melodies of the quarter-hour Largo, the Oslo strings passionate (and brilliantly co-ordinated in the upper registers):

The madcap finale offers rapid-fire is of white-hot brilliance. In the coda, the copmoser brings back themes of earlier movements, an effect he himself described as "questions cast into eternity":

The disc partner is the very last of Myaskovsly's symphonies, No. 27 in C minor, Op. 85. It was composed after Myaskovsky underwent a serious operation; it holds much beauty, its language more pluralist than Prokofiev's. One might hear Dvořák here, or perhaps a Hollywood film score in an arhing melody there. Somehow, it works. Perhaps it is the translucent scoring, the lightness of touch (especially in this performance):

The unashamed outpouring of the central Adagio is remarkable and beautiful, with Petrenko shaping the path to the clmaxes superbly:

The finale exudes optimism, a glorious way to close this magnificent disc:

Released just two days ago (May 20), this disc follows on from a similar coupling of Prokofiev Fifth Symphony and Myaskovsky Symphony No. 21. Prokofiev and Myaskovsky were friends, and both suffered hardship in the Stalin regime; they make natural disc bedfellows. This is a spectacularly successful series; the Oslo Phlharmonic has proved its mettle in this repertoire previously (Jansons' Tchaikovsky series on Chandos); this is a fine addition to their discography.