Linn René Bayley
Fanfare, USA
July 2011

Following the death of Yevgeny Svetlanov, his younger colleague Yuri Temirkanov has, to some extent, succeeded him as Russia's leading romantic conductor (with the even younger Mikhail Pletnev hard on his heels). This quality is well brought out on the present disc, in which excerpts from Prokofiev's various suites are combined in concert form. Cinderella combines six numbers from op. 107 with two from Op 108 ("Dancing Lesson and Gavotte" and "Galop") and one from Op 109 ("Amoroso"), while Romeo and Juliet begins with five tracks from Op 64 ter and ends with two from Op 64 bis ("Masks" and "The Death of Tybalt").

As usual with Temirkanov, the performances are marked by decisive tempi, clean phrasing, and immaculate orchestral playing. There is an exuberance of spirit here and touches of legato even in the fastest passages that sometimes eludes his more famous colleague Valery Gergiev, though none of the above-named conductors match Gergiev in his dramatic cohesion and dark orange and brown colors. One excellent example comes in the "Fairy Grandmother and Fairy Winter" excerpt from the first ballet, where the light string and wind playing fairly shimmers in the context of a gorgeously phrased reading.

The question is whether you have a need for these excerpts in your collection. If you have outstanding performances of both ballets complete, you may not opt for this disc; but if you don't, or if you are a Temirkanov fan, you'll certainly want this.