- On the Dnieper (Sur le Borysthène), ballet, Op. 51
- Lieutenant Kijé, film score and suite for orchestra, Op. 60
- Semyon Kotko, suite for orchestra, Op. 81 bis
This two-disc CPO set offers two rarely encountered works by Prokofiev and one of his repertory staples. But even the popular "Lieutenant Kije Suite" here is unusual in one respect: the listener is given both the orchestral version and the rarely heard vocal alternative (which features a baritone soloist) of Romance and "Troika." "Kije" is given a solid reading by Prokofiev specialist Jurowski here with sparkling accounts of the famous "Kije"'s "Wedding" and "Troika." Baritone Boris Statsenko sings with passion in Romance and such energy in "Troika" as to leave the listener breathless over his ability to get in all the syllables at the breakneck tempo. The WDR Sinfonieorchestra plays with spirit and total commitment, from the saxophonist's bouncy solo in Romance to the wind players' colorful work in "Kije's Wedding." The 1932 "Sur le Borysthène" (or On the Dnieper) was Prokofiev's fifth ballet, the last he wrote in France and the one that preceded "Romeo and Juliet." It has a tuneful but arid character throughout its 16 numbers; it is by turns spirited and playful, passionate and dark, but not memorable alongside "Romeo" and "Cinderella." Its one big tune, first heard in No. 6, "Betrothal," struggles through thick orchestration (oppression?) to express its dark lyricism. Elsewhere the ballet is quite lovely (No. 4, "Pas de deux") and spirited ("Meeting, No. 2") and never dull, especially in this kind of performance, where tempos by Jurowski are well chosen and the orchestra responds with enthusiasm -- could one imagine a more deliciously mischievous "Bridegroom's Dance" (No. 7) or a more impassioned "Bride's Dance" (No. 8)? The "Semyon Kotko Suite," taken from Prokofiev's 1939 opera, is a tuneful, lovely work in eight movements whose weakness is its lack of contrast: the first four movements are all moderately paced and tuneful, but don't break the generally somber mood. No. 5, "Execution," and No. 6, "The Village Is Burning," are thrilling (the latter, though, not as thrilling as heard in the opera, where the vocal writing imparts an even more harrowing character). But for all these seeming inadequacies, the work is lovely and the melodies ravishing. No. 1, Introduction, presents an instantly ingratiating melody, and there follow several others, the best of which is probably the soaring, gorgeous theme in "The Southern Night." On purely melodic grounds, this work might challenge the three suites to "Romeo." Again, Jurowski draws a fine performance from the orchestra, whose warm, silken strings (especially as heard in "The Southern Night") and splendid winds stand out, making this preferable to Järvi's account on Chandos. The sound on all works is detailed and fully state-of-the-art.