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Alexander Nevsky

Donald Macleod focuses on Prokofiev's first struggles with the brutal realities of state criticism. With excerpts from Alexander Nevsky, drawn from his music to Eisenstein's film.

Donald Macleod explores Prokofiev's first struggles with the brutal realities of state criticism. Featuring excerpts from his cantata Alexander Nevsky, drawn from his incidental music to Eisenstein's iconic film.

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.

After his passport was confiscated in the late 1930s it began to dawn on Prokofiev that the life of this "prodigal son" would never be the same again. Under immense pressure to write works that glorified the Soviet state, he made a series of missteps that put his life in peril: first composing a series of insipid agit-prop songs, then an enormous cantata to commemorate the October Revolution in which Lenin and Stalin's texts appeared chilling rather than glorious. As his personal life unravelled, he was saved from oblivion by his music to Sergei Eisenstein's iconic film Alexander Nevsky. Donald Macleod introduces excerpts from the cantata Prokofiev created from that incidental music, as well as his little-known Cello Concerto.

Prokofiev: Bravely Forward (Seven Songs, Op.79)
Konstantin Pluzhnikov, tenor
Yuri Serov, piano

Prokofiev: The Constitution (Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution)
Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus
Neeme Järvi, conductor

Prokofiev: II. Allegro giusto (Cello Concerto in E Minor)
Steven Isserlis (cello)
Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra
Paavo Järvi, conductor

Prokofiev: Russia Under The Mongolian Yoke; Song About Alexander Nevsky (Alexander Nevsky)
Scottish National Orchestra and Scottish National Chorus
Neeme Järvi, conductor

Prokofiev: Arise Ye Russian People; The Battle on Ice; The Field Of The Dead (Alexander Nevsky)
Linda Finnie, contralto
Scottish National Orchestra and Scottish National Chorus
Neeme Järvi, conductor.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Sergei Prokofiev

    Seven songs, Op 79 - Bravely forward

    Performer: Yuri Serov. Singer: Konstantin Pluzhnikov.
    • DELOS: DE2375.
    • 16.
  • Sergei Prokofiev

    Cantata for the 20th anniversary of the October revolution Op.74 - The constitution

    Performer: Philharmonia Orchestra. Choir: Philharmonia Chorus. Conductor: Neeme Järvi.
    • CHANDOS : CHAN-9095.
    • CHANDOS.
    • 10.
  • Sergei Prokofiev

    Concerto in E minor Op 58 - Allegro giusto

    Performer: Steven Isserlis. Orchestra: Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Paavo Järvi.
    • Hyperion CDA68037.
    • Hyperion.
    • 1.
  • Sergei Prokofiev

    Alexander Nevsky - Cantata Op.78 - Russia under the Mongolian yoke; Song about Alexander Nevsky

    Conductor: Neeme Järvi. Choir: Royal Scottish National Orchestra Chorus. Orchestra: Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
    • CHANDOS: CHAN10482X.
    • CHANDOS.
    • 9.
  • Sergei Prokofiev

    Alexander Nevsky - Arise ye Russian people; The battle on ice; The field of the dead

    Conductor: Neeme Järvi. Singer: Linda Finnie. Choir: Royal Scottish National Orchestra Chorus. Orchestra: Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
    • CHANDOS: CHAN10482X.
    • CHANDOS.
    • 12.

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