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In Reply to: RE: Oh wait! Prokofiev's Seventh Symphony was completed in 1952! posted by Chris from Lafayette on July 08, 2017 at 16:37:37
I can go with either ending. I think a lot depends on how the rest of the symphony is conducted and whether the conductor wants to bring out the irony that I hear in the music or the gloom. Was this the first stereo recording? According to The Gramophone both the 1st and 7th symphonies were recorded by Nicolai Malko in February 1955 as EMI's first stereo recordings intended for commercial release. The 2-track stereo tapes were released in 10-1955 (1st) and 8-1956 (7th).
Malko was Russian. His recording was made only a few years after the work's composition. The recording is excellent and belies its age. It's a bit distant, but has fine detailed string sound, a wide dynamic range, and good top and bottom in the frequency response. The important tuba part is easy to hear. The sound expands nicely at climaxes. Malko doesn't let the tempo drag in the 1st movement and keeps the texture light to avoid any excessive gloominess. The 2nd movement is quickly and powerfully conducted, the 3rd lyrical and simple. In the final movement he sets a very brisk tempo and chooses the "happy" ending. The last bars are accelerated slightly. The ending seems appropriate. I like to think there is something authentically Russian in this performance. I have other recordings, but none I prefer more than this one. Surely this work belongs on the list. Thanks for mentioning it, Chris.
And I agree with everything you say about that recording, including the excellent two-channel sound. The CD reissue took the Classics for Pleasure cover for some reason:
It was one of those recordings that was first issued as an RCA LP in this country apparently by some arrangement with EMI. It seems to have foreshadowed the mania for humorous covers that really got going in the mid-60's:
Malko seems to have been an interesting character. I think that one of the Testament reissues shows a picture of Malko with a chimp on his shoulder! (Unfortunately, I can't find it on Google Images.) He also apparently used to harass Walter Legge to give him more recording assignments, which Legge seemed to dole out to him with reluctance! ;-)
Thanks for the reminder that RCA issued the two Malko recordings. I had forgotten about them. RCA also issued them on two stereo 2-track tapes in 1956.
RCA had a long relationship with EMI to issue its recordings in the US through the 78 rpm era. This changed in 1955 when EMI bought Capitol Records and established the Angel label to release its classical recordings in the US. Somehow there must have been an agreement to release the Prokofiev symphonies. No other EMI recordings followed. However, RCA had a short-lived distribution of the EMI His Master's Voice and Columbia 2-track tapes. These show up on eBay from time to time with a small RCA sticker. They were duplicated with the US NARTB equalization rather than the European CCIR (IEC) equalization.
A small number of 2-track tapes were issued under the Angel label in 1959 imported from England with NARTB equalization. With the advent of stereo LPs and 4-track tapes, they quickly disappeared. Some obscure, but interesting information, from the early days of stereo.
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