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Prokofiev: Symphonies and Concertos (Babayan & Volodin) – The Mariinsky Label

Symphonies Nos 4, 6 & 7
Piano Concertos Nos 4 & 5

***** ‘Alexei Volodin made it [Piano Concerto No 4] sound effortless.’ Financial Times

'...performed flawlessly [Piano Concerto No 5]…’ The Telegraph

  • Sergei Babayan piano
    Alexei Volodin piano

    Valery Gergiev conductor
    Mariinsky Orchestra

  • Total duration 2h 38m 14s

    Catalogue number MAR0577
    UPC 822231857723

    Vladimir Ryabenko Producer & Engineer

    Symphonies Nos 4 & 6, Piano Concerto No 4 - DSD
    Recorded at Mariinsky Concert Hall, St Petersburg

    Symphony No 7 & Piano Concerto No 5 - 24 bit 48 kHz PCM
    Recorded at Moscow Conservatory


    2 SACD Hybrid in jewel case with booklet
    Notes in English / en Français / auf Deutsch / на русском языке
    Compatible with all CD players - SACD layer includes multi-channel 5.0 and stereo mixes

  • Editor’s Choice ***** ‘Continuing an already impressive own-label cycle, this well-filled set is even finer… The finale of the sixth is as exciting as any on record – and, with an excellent SACD sound, this is shaping up to be an unmissable series.’ Classical Music Magazine

    ***** Performance ***** Recording ‘Here soloists, conductor and orchestra seem fully engaged, delivering strongly characterised performances of great emotional depth and musical insight… Alexei Volodin (in the Fourth) and Sergei Babayan (in the Fifth) approach the fast movements with mercurial wit and dazzling clarity of fingerwork… Gergiev and the Mariinsky orchestra accompany with razor-sharp precision and play the three post-war symphonies with conviction and commitment…’ BBC Music Magazine

    ***** 'This Mariinsky newcomer is far superior, not only in the deeply introspective slant of Gergievs’s re-thinks, but also the sheer heft of the sound, with the all-pervasive bass drum especially vivid. The 1947 re-write of No 4 is given with a welter of emotion… Sergei Babayan’s account of the belligerent and occasionally humorous Fifth Concerto employs a formidable technique to compelling musical ends. Rarely has music’s most challenging ‘enfant terrible’ been allowed so near the edge – and in such wonderful sound, too. I now can’t wait to hear this team in the Second and Third Symphonies. Fabulous!' Classical Ear

    Performance ****½ Recording ****½ ‘This exceptionally generously filled two-disc SACD set Gergiev and his Mariinsky Orchestra provides a veritable feast of the composer's works… This impressive release marks a most auspicious start to the Mariinsky label's projects to honour the 125th anniversary of Prokofiev’s birth and should be heard by all who admire this composer's music.’ HRAudio.net

    Choc de Classica **** ‘Prokofiev with iron and fire…Here there is commitment, flexibility, freedom and colour…This new recording with the Mariinsky Orchestra will be the most integral, idiomatic and recommended to all’. Classica

    *** ‘Volodin and Babayan acquit themselves with élan, making both problematic scores come alive, ably supported by the Mariinsky orchestra’ International Piano

    ‘(Alexei Volodin) easily handling the technical demands for the left hand that would challenge all but the most competent of artists… the soloist and orchestra prove a formidable pairing… Sergei Babayan’s dexterity and keyboard style are much in evidence; the virtuosic demands are conveyed with great finesse… Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra provide a spirited and thoroughly convincing performance, bringing together a wealth of timbres and colours. In all, these are exemplary performances and the collection is destined to be a staple in the catalogue.’ The Whole Note

    ‘Gergiev is as successful as anyone in making this curious hybrid feel through-composed and credibly Soviet. The band’s distinctive timbre creates an air of authenticity. So too does Alexei Volodin’s account of the Fourth Piano Concerto.’ Gramophone

    ‘Performances are steeped in a pungency created by their distinctly Russian tonal colours, the hard-hitting often violent and hysterical view of the Sixth Symphony is the best on disc.’ YorkshirePost.co.uk

    ‘(Gergiev’s Sixth Symphony) is excellent; the elegiac character of the Allegro moderato is especially well caught and there’s real eloquence to the playing. Rhythms are nicely sprung and Gergiev has a fine grasp of the music’s architecture. He also delivers a more transparent, ‘aerated’ reading of this opener than most, and that allows one to appreciate Prokofiev’s orchestral skills all the more. The central Largo has wonderful shape and inwardness – the woodwind playing is superb – and the big moments are as crisp as one could wish. What a vital, vibrant Vivace, so full of life. The brass, timp and bassdrum players deserve special praise for their contributions here; ditto the recording team.’ Musicweb International

    ‘I loved it... (Babayan) is a powerful, but really engaging player… (Gergiev and Babayan) strike sparks from one another. The reaction between them is really exciting… (Gergiev) makes various groups of the orchestra sing… marvellous detail… so seductive, so delightful…’ BBC Radio 3

    ‘Gergiev is the perfect conductor emphasizing the sardonic episodes as well as the often lush romantic tunes—and the occasional touches of humour. ..Wonderful performances, very well recorded. An important addition to any multi-channel library’ Classical CD Review

    ‘Valery Gergiev comes closer than any conductor today to conveying the full range of Prokofiev’s personality: the rhythmic provocateur and the wondrous melodist, the theatrical empath and the flawed human being. This double-disc live compendium presents a dizzying amount of musical energy... The piano concertos see Alexei Volodin (in the fourth) and Sergei Babayan (the Fifth) ably blending guts with glitter… The Seventh Symphony is a high point here of surging melody and complicated emotion’ Listen Magazine

    Performance Reviews

    ‘Sergei Babayan returned for (Piano Concerto) No 5, a work of sly wit and dark humour. The audience loved every minute...’
    Evening Standard

    ‘Never have I seen so many fast and furious hand-crossings, so many dizzying flights from top to bottom of the keyboard, all performed flawlessly (Piano Concerto No 5)…’
    The Telegraph

    ‘Alexei Volodin’s performance of the Piano Concerto No 4 was superbly controlled and beautifully subtle.’
    The Guardian

    ***** ‘Alexei Volodin made it [Piano Concerto No 4] sound effortless.’
    Financial Times

    **** ‘Gergiev’s evident understanding of the structural and emotional intent of the symphony (No 7) was communicated to the orchestra...’

    ‘The pungent wit and extreme pianistic demands of the second movement of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No 5 characterfully met by Sergei Babayan with the Mariinsky orchestra. It’s an excellent opening salvo for the Mariinsky’s celebrations for Prokofiev’s birthday’ BBC Radio 3


Valery Gergiev, Sergei Babayan, Alexei Volodin, Mariinsky Orchestra

This major release launches the Mariinsky label’s projects to honour the 125th anniversary of Prokofiev’s birth. A long-time champion of the music of Prokofiev, Valery Gergiev conducts Symphonies Nos 4, 6 & 7, performed masterfully by the Mariinsky Orchestra and coupled with Piano Concertos Nos 4 and 5. The result is a 2-SACD set programmed to showcase some of Prokofiev’s finest works written before and after the Second World War.

Prokofiev began his Symphony No 4 in 1929, drawing from the musical material of his ballet The Prodigal Son. The Symphony was premiered the following year, though he substantially revised the work seventeen years later.

Symphony No 6 was written in 1947 as an elegy of the tragedies of World War II. Speaking of the Symphony, Prokofiev said, ‘Now we are rejoicing in our great victory, but each of us has wounds which cannot be healed. One man’s loved ones have perished, another has lost his health. This must not be forgotten.’

The composer's final symphony was completed in 1952, the year before the composer’s death. The Symphony was well-received following its premiere in Moscow, and was awarded the prestigious Lenin Prize in 1957 at Miami’s Knight Concert Hall.

Acclaimed for his highly sensitive touch and technical brilliance, Alexei Volodin performs Prokofiev Piano Concerto No 4. Written for the one-armed pianist Paul Wittgenstein, the concerto was completed in 1931. It was the only one of Prokofiev’s piano works that never saw a performance during his lifetime. Premiered in Berlin in 1956, it was played by the West Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra. Alexei Volodin’s performance of the Concerto is described as ‘superbly controlled and beautfiully subtle’ by The Guardian.

Praised for his ‘fast and furious hand-crossing’ the American-Armenian musician Sergei Babyan performs Prokofiev’s last complete piano concerto, No 5. Written in 1932, the Concerto is made up of five short movements, each of which contains a wealth of virtuosity and invention.

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