Prokofiev: Symphonies Nos. 1-3 – Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Andrew Litton

October 26, 2020, 9:00 am

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Sergei Prokofiev was so versatile that audiences never quite knew what to expect. As a strategy, this could misfire, but with his first symphony he got things just right. He once described what he wanted to achieve: “If Haydn had lived into this era, he would have kept his own style while absorbing things from what was new in music.” The Classical symphony has been a true classic since its first performance in 1918. It was in Paris that he composed his Second Symphony. The first audience in 1925 was more bewildered than enthusiastic, and Prokofiev himself wondered whether he’d overdone the rough counterpoint and density of texture. He then returned to a project he had been working on for several years – the opera The Fiery Angel. In 1928, when he began to think that no opera house would take it up, Prokofiev decided to reuse the music in what became his Third Symphony. The present disc is the fourth and last in a symphony cycle which has earned the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Andrew Litton critical acclaim worldwide.