A MUSICAL MEMORY

So much of the way we respond to music stems from our very subjective, very personal experiences – the kind that have nothing to do with critical objectivity. Such is the case with my response to the intriguing ALTO release of music by Sergei Prokofiev.

Prokofiev’s suite opus 33 from his comic opera The Love of Three Oranges is led by the late Hungarian conductor Antal Doráti, who helms the London Symphony Orchestra in an energetic reading of Prokofiev’s Soviet era composition.

For this listener the gem in this recording is the crystalline reading by Stanisław Skrowacsewski, an often-overlooked Polish-trained, American by citizenship maestro, who leads the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra in a perfect performance of Prokofiev’s two ballet suites.

This week – absent a turntable – I have been very pleased to listen to several recordings from the Age of Stereo all intelligently annotated, and flawlessly remastered by Paul Arden-Taylor.

Back to the subject of my response to Prokofiev’s music and to the readings given it by Dorati and Skrowacsewski, I will happily listen to the suite from The Love for Three Oranges Suite with respectful attention and salute Dorati’s firm conducting. But I will listen again and perhaps more than again to Stanisław Skrowacsewski’s inspired interpretation of Prokofiev’s storytelling music for Romeo and Juliet: achingly lyrical in all three pax de deux sequences for the ill-fated lovers, brutally percussive for Tybalt’s death, animated, even playful for the connecting scenes during which no hint of the impending tragedy is perceived.

And, of course, there is the stalwart Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, which happens to inhabit one of my most treasured memories – one that goes back to the Twin Cities precisely sixty-one years ago – when I listened to it, with Skrowacsewski at the podium, as an awestruck kid in one of my first ever concertgoing outings.

Rafael de Acha © 2022

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