Donald Macleod tells the troubled story of Prokofiev's operatic masterpiece - an adaptation of a novel long considered impossible to adapt for the stage: Tolstoy's War and Peace.
Donald Macleod tells the troubled story of Prokofiev's operatic masterpiece - his adaptation of a novel long considered impossible to adapt for the stage: Tolstoy's War and Peace.
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.
The story of Prokofiev's operatic masterpiece mirrors the epic drama and human tragedy of its source. War and Peace had long been considered impossible to adapt for the stage - but in the 1940s, as the USSR was drawn into the war by the German Operation Barbarossa, the composer decided to rouse national feeling with Tolstoy's sweeping tale. Donald Macleod explores the story of the work, written as the composer was evacuated to the Caucasus at the height of the fighting, and the personal and professional trials the composer suffered in bringing it to the stage.
Prokofiev: Mazurka (Cinderella Suite no 1, Op.107)
Orchestre de Paris
Semyon Bychkov, conductor
Prokofiev: II. Adagio (String Quartet no.2 "on Kabardinian Themes")
Pavel Haas Quartet
Prokofiev: When I was at Otradnoye in May... (War and Peace, Scene 2)
Roderick Williams, baritone (Andrei)
Russian State Symphonic Cappella
Spoleto Festival Orchestra
Richard Hickox, conductor
Prokofiev: She's wonderful and so beautiful (War and Peace, Scene 4)
Anna Netrebko, soprano (Natasha)
Zlata Bulycheva, mezzo
Dmitry Voropaez, tenor
Vladimir Moroz, bass-baritone
Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre
Valery Gergiev, conductor
Prokofiev: I. Moderato (Flute Sonata)
Emanuel Pahud, flute
Stephan Kovacevich, piano
Prokofiev: The wine is poured... (War and Peace, Scene 9)
Eduard Tumagian, bass-baritone (Napoleon Bonaparte)
Chorus and Orchestra of Radio France
Mstistlav Rostropovich, conductor.