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Cat. No. CHAN 10347(2) Price: £21 No. of discs: 2
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CHAN 10347 - Prokofiev: The Love for Three Oranges
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Audio Sample

Available From: 14 November 2005
First performed in a French version prepared by Prokofiev and his friend, the singer Vera Janacopoulos, though originally set in his native Russian, The Love for Three Oranges jumps nimbly between the two traditions. Such razor-sharp ideas as the doctors’ chorus in irregular metres and the quirky March – the work’s smash hit as Prokofiev recognized long before the premiere – are indebted to the Russian fairy-tale operas of Rimsky-Korsakov. By contrast, the expressive string and woodwind writing first used to satirical effect in the early scenes before coming into its own for the love-duet of Prince and Princess clearly has its roots in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande. Prokofiev’s genius for illustrating every character with a deft gesture or two, already put to brilliant use in The Gambler, gives us, among a gallery of cartoon characters, a depressed King of Clubs, a lachrymose prince whose first laughter is dazzlingly set up by string staccatos, the somersaulting fantastics of Truffaldino, and the supreme minister of oily walks, Leandro. A surprisingly earnest air of diablerie backs up the supernatural string-pullers Tchelio and Fata Morgana, while the many dance interludes, alternately light and heavy-footed, look back to Prokofiev’s first score for Diaghilev (turned into the Scythian Suite when the impresario rejected it), and across to his second, Chout (The Buffoon), begun in 1915. There is never a dull moment in this compact masterpiece, although neither the premiere in Chicago in 1921 nor a production in New York soon afterwards found favour with the critics, who complained of a lack of any ‘real music’ in Prokofiev’s deliberately ‘bright, lively, and simple’ score. More success was later had in Cologne and when Prokofiev returned to his homeland in 1927. Heard in English for the first time in this recording in a witty translation by Tom Stoppard, the opera is indeed a jeu d’esprit to entertain young and old alike.

For once, I have something vaguely seasonal to offer: Prokofiev’s ‘Love for Three Oranges’, sung in English and with its pantomime spirit brilliantly caught.
David Fanning Gramophone 2006 Critic’s Choice

Hickox has thorough command of the score…and the recording quality is excellent.
American Record Guide on CHAN 9855(4) (War and Peace)

An extremely well played and sung version which offers the complete score.
Disc of the month, The Independent on CHAN 9855(4) (War and Peace)


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