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  Capriccio -
  71 014
  Prokofiev: Alexander Nevsky (complete) - Frank Strobel
  Prokofiev: Alexander Nevsky (complete film music)

Marina Domaschenko
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
Frank Strobel (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Vocal
Recording type:
Recording info:
  Recording: Berlin-Dahlem, Jesus-Christus-Kirche, 13-15-17.10.2003
Redaktion DLR: Stefan Lang
Balance Engineer: Wolfram Nehls
Recording Engineer: Geert Puhlmann
Sound Technicians: Raimund Becker, Hermann Leppich
Coordination: Steffen Georgi
Production Team: Maria Grätzel, Christian Schwalbe
Editing Team: Stefan Lang, Nina Goslar

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Related titles: 1

Reviews: 3

Review by peteyspambucket March 4, 2005 (13 of 13 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This recording and performance is so good, that I have been sufficiently moved to get off my lazy butt and write this review! It's THAT GOOD!

For me, this is a priceless recording and reconstruction. This piece is one of my favorite pieces of all time, and the movie had quite an impact on me, as I saw it in Film 101 in college, and I was expecting to be bored out of my mind, but rather was stupefied by the beauty and craftmanship of the film-making. Musically, I have had to live with the very old 60's sound on RBCD of my favorite recording from Evgeny Svetlanov (which features an unforgivable fade-out on the final note -- however, the LP does not). This Svetlanov is the holy grail of interpretations, in my book. Nothing else has ever come close to the vitality and commitment of the orchestra and chorus to the interpretation -- not even the Schippers version (on SACD) or the Reiner, or the Abbado, or the Slatkin, etc, etc, I've listened to a lot of them critically. I think of this piece as one of the greatest movie soundtracks ever written, which is often imitated by modern film score composers like James Horner (as in the first battle scene from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) and John Williams.

What I love about this Strobel version is how raw and exciting the playing is. The orchestra is recorded with a close mike and a clarity not often achieved in Prokofiev pieces. You can hear the overtones when the winds play big chords and the strings soar with their exciting and difficult passages. The recording allows much of the detail on the orchestration to shine. I love how the sound of the bass clarinets are captured. I could even hear a saxophone at one point. The chorus was fantastically prepared for this by an uncredited chorus master. (Could it be that Strobel also performed that function?) Generally, the pacing is really great, and it's clear that the musical preparation was in conjunction with screenings of the film because the action music is played really fast like it was in the old version recorded by Prokofiev.

The Song for Alexander is sung with such beauty and perfect phrasing, it's hard to resist getting carried away. The Battle on the Ice is very exciting. It's a pleasure to hear the percussion played very subtly unlike on most other recordings. In the pivotal battle scene the rear channels are used to a dramatic effect to highlight the bell tower signals, and the primitive brass calls of the approaching forces that would help win the battle (the cavalry, so to speak). This was such a very smart idea, and it even helps you visualize that the enemy is surprised to be attacked from behind.

Marina Domaschenko, who performs the mezzo aria(s), is no stranger to SACD, she sounds really great here, aided by a very lyrical orchestra. I would have loved a voice with a deeper timber, but she provides a very emotional performance.

Overall, I find this a must-have and a stunning interpretation regardless of whether it's an SACD or not. Lovers of this piece should not hesitate to get this. The SACD has 27 tracks and is about 55 min long. The interpretation is exciting, flexible, and lithe, and that's all anyone could ask for in a Prokofiev piece as great as this. That I'm inspired to watch the movie again is a testament to the performance and the movie because, to me, it's so hard to separate the two.

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Review by tpsmg October 31, 2004 (7 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This recording marks the first attempt to release "Alexander Nevsky" in its original form, the film score for the 1938 Sergej Eisenstein movie. It has a lot of differences to the well-known Cantata, particularly in orchestration an sequencing. Prokofiev enriched the sound for the cantata, adding more bombastic chorus and a fuller orchestral arrangement. Listening to the fabulous reconstruction by Frank Strobel you can an insight to the scores original, exquisite and colourful orchestration. And it is of course much longer than the Cantata.

The orchestra is the Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin, not one of the first rate Berlin orchestras, but here they're doing a terrific job. You can feel the commitment to the music, it is played with enormous precision and emotion. The intonation of the chorus is excellent.
The recording has been made in a Church in Berlin. The acoustics are dry, close and very transparent, as the music needs. There is so much detail in the orchestration, so that Prokofievs experiment with extravagant instrumentation are presented in their best way.

Great Music. Great Performance. Great Recording.

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Review by Dinko June 4, 2004 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
The SA-CD medium now has two first-rate Nevskys in the catalog: Thomas Schippers' unmatched recording of the cantata, and now Frank Strobel's recording of the reconstructed original film score.

A previous attempt by Bill Brohn to reconstruct the film score was very decent, but because he used the orchestrations from the cantata, the result was not significantly different from it.

This new reconstruction uses original material recently released from the archives. The result is much closer to Prokofiev's original intent. The semi-distorted bass horns and shrieking trumpets in "The Invaders of Pskov" sound much more like the original soundtrack than either the cantata or the Brohn reconstruction (recorded by Yuri Temirkanov and the St. Petersburgh Philharmonic Orchestra for RCA).

The Ernst-Senff-Chor does a great job pronouncing the Russian texts. Strobel conducts a never-bored orchestra with a rich, transparent sound on this journey of exploration of an old classic.

Occasionally, instruments are placed in the rear channels. This creates peculiar effects and enhances the bizarre orchestration.

Capriccio's sound is first rate. There are better engineered recordings out there. But not that many. Rounded brass, warm strings, good dynamic range which allows the subtler drum rolls or the loudest choral noise to come out without congesting the delivery medium.

Recorded in the Jesus-Christus Kirche, the recording has a vast soundstage. I would have preferred a slightly closer perspective, but then, Prokofiev himself played around with microphone placement for the original soundtrack. Since this recording attempts to reproduce the original, the occasionally inconsistent sound is fitting (distant perspective in the strings, with some unnaturally loud trombones(?) around track 14 or so).

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Works: 1  

Serge Prokofiev - Alexander Nevsky (Film score)