Irina Tchistjakova, mezzo-soprano
Niall Docherty, boy alto
Royal Scottish National Orchestra Junior Chorus
Royal Scottish National Orchestra Chorus
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Neeme Järvi, conductor
Neeme Järvi is universally applauded for his Prokofiev recordings. Here he conducts the first recording of Symphonic Fragments from The Queen of Spades, as arranged and elaborated by Michael Berkeley, coupled with the seldom performed oratorio On Guard for Peace.
In 1936 Prokofiev was commissioned to write the score for Mikhail Romm’s film The Queen of Spades. Stalin’s directives put an end to the project and the film was never realised; consequently Prokofiev’s score was left unheard, and in the case of some numbers un-orchestrated.
In 2007/2008 Michael Berkeley was commissioned to complete the score for a ballet at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, titled Rushes and performed in 2008.
This arrangement gave Prokofiev’s music viable dramatic shape, though independent of the original film plot.
The Symphonic Fragments recorded here return to and elaborate further upon the surviving film music material to create an extended suite for the concert hall.
Berkeley describes his work as follows: ‘I think the best phrase is that I have “arranged and elaborated” what Prokofiev wrote. It has a wonderful energy and rhythm. Yes, of course it has a film-music feel, but it also has this obsessive quality.’
It is coupled here with Prokofiev’s final politically motivated work, and the last of his choral compositions, the stirring oratorio On Guard for Peace.
“…superb performances of lesser-known Prokofiev works. Neeme Järvi understands the drama of Prokofiev's music, as is evident in his celebrated cycle of the symphonies, and here he conducts by some margin the most convincing account of Prokofiev's final choral work, On Guard for Peace.”
BBC Music Magazine, August 2009 ****
“Both works get powerhouse performances from Neeme Järvi.”
The Guardian, 17th July 2009 ***