PROKOFIEV: Humoresque Scherzo for four bassoons; Classical Symphony transcription for two pianos; Overture on Hebrew Themes; Quintet in G Minor Op. 39; Romeo & Juliet Suite for Wind Octet – Czech Nonet and Friends: Prague Winds – Praga Digitals

by | Mar 14, 2006 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

PROKOFIEV: Humoresque Scherzo for four bassoons; Classical Symphony transcription for two pianos (Arr. by Terashima); Overture on Hebrew Themes; Quintet in G Minor Op. 39; Romeo & Juliet Suite for Wind Octet (Arr. by Tarkmann) – Czech Nonet and Friends: Prague Wind Quintet; Martin Hrsel, Irina Kondratenko – Praga Digitals Multichannel SACD PRD/DSD 250 216, 68:48 ****:

Another superbly-performed and transparently-recorded SACD from Praga Digitals. The variety and fascination of this delightful chamber music program is not restricted in the least by two of the works being transcriptions from symphonic originals. Or by all the works being of the same composer. Two-piano transcriptions are always a kick, and Prokofiev’s lighthearted Classical Symphony fits the format so well one may forget it is normally played by a full symphony orchestra. The same goes for the Romeo and Juliet suite.  The eight sections of the suite are mostly just a bit over two minutes each, and yet they convey the full spectrum of joy, threat, horror, and sadness that permeate this masterpiece ballet score. It may seem that without strings the emotions of the Prokofiev’s music could not be properly conveyed, but the Prague Winds belie that idea.

The Overture on Hebrew Themes is sometimes heard in a chamber orchestra version, but the original was scored for the unusual combination of clarinet, piano and string quartet.  It uses two Jewish folk songs with Hassidic flavor. The G Minor Quintet was written for oboe, clarinet, violin, viola and doublebass to accompany a ballet company production with a circus life theme. Prokofiev’s clownish and jovial writing is perfect for the scenario as laid out in the six movement.  The Czech Nonet is one of the oldest chamber music ensembles in the world and one of the only nonets period. Their extremely varied repertory is illustrated by this single disc, even though all the works are from one composer.  The soundstage placement of the various performers is just right and the sonics are pleasing, especially the string timbres.

 – John Sunier

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