Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5 – Cleveland Orchestra, Franz Welser-Möst

March 3, 2023, 9:00 am

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Written during the final months of World War II, Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 was described by the composer as “a symphony of the greatness of the human spirit, a song of praise of free and happy mankind.” The 1945 premiere, a runaway success, marked the highpoint of Prokofiev’s career in the Soviet Union. “Yet, there is a subtext,” says Cleveland Orchestra Music Director Franz Welser-Möst, who conducts the symphony on this recording and reminds us of Prokofiev’s ongoing struggle to produce lasting music that also satisfied the government sensors. A purely symphonic work, its stately opening movement leads to the spiky rhythms and startling harmonics of the satiric second. The lyrical Adagio, filled with introspection and reflection, segues into an optimistic finale tinged with a hint of uncertainty, questioning any foregone conclusion of a happy ending.