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CD Review

Serge Prokofieff

Suite "Chout" (The Buffoon), Op. 21a

London Symphony Orchestra/Walter Susskind
Everest SBDR-3001
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Curiously, the extensive page on Classical Net for the composer doesn't feature any reviews of Chout, but that's not a shock, considering how much more popular his other ballets are in comparison. My collection didn't feature it either, so by a happy mistake I received this album from Countdown Media. Available as either a download (iTunes) or physical release (Amazon), I really do suggest the discs, especially as this particular reissue of Everest titles gives you the original LP cover and notes.

Walter Susskind was an ideal artist for Everest; he worked mostly freelance, never really settling down with a big name orchestra, but he was reliable and worked well in the United Kingdom. As with many Czech conductors, he had a large repertoire and worked well as an orchestral trainer. His final appointments were in North America, and he died young – for a conductor – at age 66. Captured here in 1958, these performances don't feature the London Symphony Orchestra as the great Prokofiev ensemble it would later become, but it does show Susskind's affinity for this music and his ability to whip these forces into shape.

This is fun music, probably best in suite form as here, but good music nonetheless. If it does absolutely nothing as far as telling a story, it doesn't have to, the sections are brightly colored and full of vitality. The London Symphony plays with committed focus and panache; the brass don't have any real warmth and the strings and winds aren't winning any prizes, but this isn't music that demands polish to be enjoyable. While lacking any real sense of Russian fervor; the bass is a touch light, the recording is worthwhile for any fans who remember the good ol' days of LP. This is another high quality production, this, but not essential.

Copyright © 2014, Brian Wigman

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