Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

A Prodigal Son Returns

Donald Macleod asks why Prokofiev chose to return to the USSR at the height of Stalin's Great Terror, when artists, intellectuals and cultural figures lived in fear of their lives.

Donald Macleod explores Prokofiev's triumphant - and ultimately tragic - return to the USSR. Featuring a complete performance of the classic musical fable Peter and the Wolf, narrated by Prokofiev's first wife Lina.

Sergei Prokofiev died the same day as Stalin; there were no flowers left for his funeral. It was the grimly ironic end to a return to his Russian motherland that had begun in triumph in the mid-1930s and descended terrifyingly quickly into a fight for his life, in the face of the state's purges of artists and intellectuals. This week, Donald Macleod explores a host of masterpieces - including Romeo and Juliet, Peter and the Wolf, War and Peace, Alexander Nevsky and the Sixth Symphony - leading to Prokofiev's final, devastating denunciation by the cultural commissars in 1948, a blow from which his music and health would never recover.

Donald Macleod begins the week with a perplexing question: why did Prokofiev choose to return to Russia at the height of Stalin's Great Terror: a time when artists, intellectuals and cultural figures (not least, Prokofiev's fellow composer Dmitri Shostakovich) lived in fear of their lives? Donald introduces a complete performance of Prokofiev's much-loved children's tale Peter and the Wolf (for which the composer wrote the story as well as music), narrated by Prokofiev's first wife Lina - herself a survivor of eight years in the Gulag.

Prokofiev: Troika (Lieutenant Kijé) (arr Chiu)
Frederick Chiu (piano)

Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No 2 in G minor (II. Andante assai)
Janine Jansen, violin
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Vladimir Jurowski, conductor

Prokofiev, arr Rozhdestvensky: The Queen of Spades - Liza; Boris Godunov - Polonaise, Scene at the Fountain (Pushkiniana)
Russian State Symphony Orchestra
Dmitry Yablonsky, conductor

Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf
Lina Prokofiev, speaker
Scottish National Orchestra
Neeme Järvi, conductor.

1 hour

Last on

Mon 19 Dec 2016 18:30

Music Played

  • Sergei Prokofiev

    Lieutenant Kije

    Performer: Frederic Chiu.
    • Harmonia mundi: 907195.
    • Harmonia mundi.
    • 18.
  • Sergei Prokofiev

    Concerto no 2 in G minor Op 63 - Andante assai

    Performer: Janine Jansen. Orchestra: London Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Vladimir Jurowski.
    • Decca 478 3546 2.
    • Decca.
    • 1.
  • Sergei Prokofiev

    Eugene Onegin Op 71

    Orchestra: Russian State S O. Conductor: Dmitry Yablonsky.
    • Naxos : 8.555712.
    • Naxos.
    • 11.
  • Sergei Prokofiev

    Peter and the Wolf Op 67

    Conductor: Neeme Järvi. Orchestra: Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
    • CHANDOS : CHAN-8511.
    • CHANDOS.
    • 9.

Broadcasts

Composers A to Z

Composers A to Z

Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

The composer of Jerusalem was very far from the conservative figure his image suggests.

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

What is the strange power of Jerusalem which makes strong men weep?

Composer Help Page

Composer Help Page

Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.