Serge Prokofiev "Alexander Nevsky"

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Многоканальная Музыка - Аудиозаписи в современных форматах

Автор: Elephantus 24/06/2009, 22:16

Serge Prokofiev "Alexander Nevsky" SACD

Weltpremiere • World Premiere Recording
Filmmusik • Film Music (1938)
Erste vollständige Neu-Aufnahme der Originalpartitu
First complete new recording of the original score


Genre: Classical – Orchestra, Vocal

SACD 5.1

Marina Domaschenko Mezzosopran • mezzo-soprano

Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
FRANK STROBEL Dirigent/conductor/chef d'orchestre
  1. The 13th century (Orchestra) [1'35J
  2. Lake Plesheyevo - song about Alexander Nevsky (Chorus, orchestra) [1'24]
  3. Lake Plesheyevo - song about Alexander Nevsky (continued; chorus, orchestra) [1 '06]
  4. Novgorod - Part 1 (Orchestra) [ 1'15]
  5. The invaders in Pskov (Orchestra) [2'28]
  6. The invaders in Pskov (continued; chorus, orchestra) [3'16]
  7. „Arise, Russian people!" Part 1 (Chorus, orchestra) [2'28]
  8. Novgorod - Part 2 (Orchestra) [1'01]
  9. Novgorod - Part 2 (continued; orchestra) [0'24]
  10. „Arise, Russian people!" Part 2 (Chorus, orchestra) [4'22]
  11. The camp of the invaders „Peregrinus, expectavi" (Chorus, orchestra) [1'44]
  12. Waiting (Orchestra) [0'57]
  13. Fanfares (Orchestra) [0'23]
  14. The battle on the ice - April 5, 1242 (Chorus, orchestra) [6' 15]
  15. - Fighting (Orchestra) [1'55]
  16. - Shawms, invaders and fighting (Chorus, orchestra) [2'50]
  17. - Fanfares (Orchestra) [0'10]
  18. - Duel (Orchestra) [1'26]
  19. - Finale (The ice breaks; orchestra) [5'17]
  20. The field of the dead (Mezzo-soprano, orchestra) [5'35]
  21. The field of the dead - conclusion (Orchestra) [1'11]
  22. Return to Pskov - Procession (Orchestra) [4'33]
  23. - The court (Orchestra) [0'38]
  24. - The fallen (Orchestra) [1'06]
  25. - „Our homeland, great land of Russia!" (Chorus, orchestra) [0'27]
  26. - Celebration (Orchestra) [0'51]
  27. Finale (Orchestra) [0'53]

Aufnahme/Recording: Berlin-Dahlem, Jesus-Christus-Kirche, 13.-15717.10.2003
Redaktion DLR: Stefan Lang
Tonmeister/Balance engineer: Wolfram Nehls
Toningenieur/Recording engineer: Geert Puhlmann
Tontechnik/Sound technicians: Raimund Becker, Hermann Leppich

DeutschlandRadio/ROC-GmbH/Delta Music (Capriccio) (71 014, 4 006408 7104411), 2004

Автор: Elephantus 24/06/2009, 22:19

Цитата( буклет )
USSR 1938, b/w, duration: 104'
Original version with German sub-titles
Sound film with restored original music soundtrack
Director: Sergey M. Eisenstein
assisted by Dmitry I.Vasilyev
Script: Pyotr A. Pavlenko and Sergey M.Eisenstein
Camera: Eduard Tissé, S. Uralov
Music: Sergey Prokofiev
Editing: Esfir Tobak
Prince Alexander - Nevsky Nikolay J. Cherkasov
Vasihy Buslay - Nikolay Okhlopkov
Gavrilo Oleksich - Alexander Abrikosov
Ignat - Dmitry N. Orlov
Olga - Vera S. Ivasheva
Master of the Teutonic Order - Vladimir L. Yershov
Production company: Mosfilm
Premiere: November 23, 1938, Bolshoy Theatre, Moscow

Цитата( буклет )
The reconstruction and new recording of Sergey
Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky film music
by Nina Goslar and Frank Strobel

The year 2003, the fiftieth anniversary of Sergey Prokofiev's death, saw a renewed encounter with one of his legendary works - an event which was seen all over the world as one of the most important events organized to commemorate the great composer. Featuring the performers on this CD the 1938 him music to Alexander Nevsky was performed live for the first time at a film concert in the Berlin Konzerthaus on October 16, 2003. After 65 years, the original score for orchestra, choir and solo voice was at last accessible again (1), extensive reconstruction having created a unique opportunity to hear the work performed live whilst watching the film.

There had been several previous attempts to present this sound film in conjunction with a live orchestral performance of the score. Its style is largely that of the silent film, with lengthy, unbroken passages of music and individual sequences of dialogue that are mostly inserted as units into the music and seldom mixed with sound effects. A score had to be pieced together laboriously by listening to the soundtrack and writing down what one heard. But the quality of the soundtrack clearly precluded an exact reconstruction, and the only published music hitherto available that was at all relevant was Prokofiev's well-known 35-minute Alexander Nevsky Cantata of  1939, an adaptation which extensively diverges from the film score.

That premiere film concert in Berlin, for which the soundtrack of the film was also technically enhanced, led to the present SACD recording of the complete film music (2) and was also filmed and shown on the ARTE television channel to mark the close of the commemorative year 2003 The enormous and very demanding experiment had two main aims: to enable the brilliant score to be heard as Prokofiev intended it, and to remind people that Russian film history is always synonymous with musical history. The most prominent composers and directors collaborated in the USSR so that film music developed and was appreciated there in ways that do not apply to the western film industry Alexander Nevsky is the best example.


Eisenstein and Prokofiev had met in Paris in 1932 and became very interested in each other's work The first opportunity for them to work together came in 1938. After a long-running dispute with the Soviet film authorities, Eisenstein at last had a new opportunity to work on a film project - a patriotic film about the Russian people's fight against invaders. The subject, the thirteenth-century figure of Alexander Nevsky was ideally suited to symbolize the acute threat the Hitler regime posed to the Soviet Union. Nevsky had succeeded in getting the various Russian tribes to forget their differences and offer united resistance to the Teutonic Knights, whom they decisively defeated in the legendary battle on Lake Peipus on April 5, 1242.

Eisenstein worked with immense energy on the film, aiming to have it completed before the end of the year. It was his intention from the start that it contain a great deal of music. However, Prokofiev did not return from the USA until May. Walt Disney had made a cartoon of Prokofiev's symphonic faire tale Peter and the Wolf; his US concert tour over, the composer took the opportunity to go to Hollywood in oder to learn about the music-recording method being applied in the American film studios.

The shooting of Alexander Nevsky began on June 5, 1938 and the film was premiered on November 23,1938. Stalin's reaction was: "Sergey Mikhaylovich, you are basically a good Bolshevik." Only nine months later, in response to the signing of the German-Soviet Non-aggression Pact, all screenings of the film were stopped, but it returned to' the cinemas immediately following the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941 - as pro-mobilization propaganda.

The music

The director and composer very quickly developed highly efficient working methods. In the first phase of filming and after preliminary discussions, Prokofiev's own piano renditions of the musical sketches he had produced were recorded on tape; Eisenstein then based his direction on the tapes, so that the music in a way governed the shooting. This process was reversed after the summer recess, with Eisenstein delivering a rough cut upon which Prokofiev based his music - often working overnight in order to have it complete by the following midday.

Their artistic approaches ideally suited them to work together. Prokofiev's flair for sculpturally rhythmic motions in pictures, his special ability to couple contrasting musical materials, his concrete and at the same time theatrical musical images (3) practically predestined him for collaboration with Sergey Eisenstein. In the final analysis, everything boils down to musical parameters, to which unity of expression and visual elements have to be musically subordinate. Emotional impact is what Eisenstein sought in his films and for him music played a dominant part in achieving that aim: „The motion of the music makes the motion in the picture perceptible - the 'concealed' as well as the manifest motion. It renders the visual structure of the image easier to read; it is there to intensify the perception of form, not to elevate the representative qualities of the image." (4)

Echoes of Russian folk music lend the music the necessary local colour. The music „... reveals for the first time the rich variety of national styles used by Sergey Prokofiev, a variety which would increase in the 'Heroic' Fifth Symphony and the film music to Ivan the Terrible, and climax in the opera War and Peace. But it all began with the 'Russian' music to Alexander Nevsky, which is based on genuine folk-tunes and represents an impressive achievement in terms of lyricism and orchestral transparency." (5) Just as it corresponds with the structure of the film, it follows the same underlying dramatic confrontation of two dominant themes - the Russian and the Teutonic. The musical means of expression correspond exactly with the visual means; the music traces the caricatural representation of the hostile invaders in strong, aggressive and mechanically monotonous rhythms. The spectacular climax of the film is the „battle on the frozen lake" scene, which lasts almost 25 minutes, during which time all the musical themes developed thus far are symphonically elaborated and welded into a uniform whole. The battle is choreographed like a ballet, with the scenes beginning and ending abruptly - both cinematographically and musically.

Original sound - original manuscript

Alexander Nevsky is unquestionably one of the key film scores of the nineteen-thirties, a truly epochal work. The fact that it existed only on the technically inadequate soundtrack was therefore all the more deplorable. Due to the age of the film, the sound suffers badly from distortion and wow at times; instrumental groups tend to lack character and merge into amorphous orchestral tone, while dynamic gradation is minimal. Particularly in the highly dramatic passages in which the orchestra, choir and speech mingle, the sound is extremely overmodulated and often so distorted that the music can hardly be appreciated.

In his desire to create unusual tone colours, Prokofiev had himself experimented with the potential of the recording techniques available at the time and applied technical effects to achieve a specific quality of sound. We know of his attempts at recording with the microphone very close to individual wind instruments in order to create emotional effects by capturing the shriller components of their tone which are normally not heard. Another important method he used in the recording studio was „false orchestration", seating the orchestra relative to the microphone so that soft instruments gained in presence and dominant instruments were heard more in the background. For the battle music, he additionally had simultaneous recordings made with the choir and individual instrumental groups placed in different rooms, a technique which related to various close-ups in the scene and, by means of individual volume controls, permitted this or the other section to be emphasized. The soundtrack cannot convey an adequate impression of this sophisticated treatment, a fact which is underlined by comparison with the manuscript, which is now at last again accessible. It alone reveals the original instrumentation and dynamics.

The many shortcomings of the old soundtrack have led to various attempts to record the music again, one being that by the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Yuri Temirkanov in 1993. However, since the original film score was gathering dust in Moscow and inaccessible until very recently, the only published score that could be consulted was that of the 35-minute Alexander Nevsky Cantata, which is orchestrated in an entirely different way from the original 55-minute film score.

The reconstruction

Now, after 65 years, the Glinka Music Museum and the Central State Archive of Literature and Art (RGALI) in Moscow have generously granted access to the original manuscript, several pages of short score and some thirty pages of sketches. All the hand-written material had been stored unordered and proved to be incomplete. The first task was therefore to order everything in the sequence in which it is used in the film. There turned out to be 27 takes, to which the respective bars of music had to be assigned from the diverse materials. Comparison with the soundtrack revealed that the original manuscript was fragmentary. The missing parts were reconstructed with the aid of the sketches, the short score and the Alexander Nevsky Cantata (taking account of its different instrumentation) and - in two takes - the original soundtrack. But since the major portion of the music is there, it is now for the first time possible to hear a reliable version of Prokofiev's music that reconstructs the instrumentation, articulation and dynamics the composer originally intended.

The main task of the reconstruction was therefore to coordinate the manuscript and soundtrack and reconcile them in terms of interpretation. The soundtrack helped in the identification of the various sections of the score and in the reconstruction of the missing parts. On the other hand, the manuscript provides unique insight into Prokofiev's intentions - something the soundtrack can at best only suggest. Each throws light on the other and enabled us to comprehensively revise the music and record it.

The way in which this film music came about - particularly the great pressure under which Prokofiev had to work - explains some of the open questions and ambiguities that arose in the process of converting the manuscript into a playable score. The manuscript contains many imprecise dynamic and articulatory indications, while obvious slips of the pen were overseen or inadequately corrected. These problems have now been ironed out. There are places where the soundtrack diverges in key from the manuscript. Either some takes were recorded in a different key, or the pitch of the actual performances changed at the dubbing stage because the playback speed of the tapes was altered in order to synchronize the music with the action. Since there is now no way of ascertaining the circumstances, it was decided to use the keys of the manuscript throughout.

While many changes in the manuscript illuminate Prokofiev's intentions, others - particularly the corrections and additions - are confusing in so far as they did not feature in the original recordings. An examination of the instrumentation of the Alexander Nevsky Cantata - Prokofiev's concert version of the music - led to the conclusion that the latter group of changes referred to it, and not to the film score. This is confirmed by the fact that a different pen was used in precisely those alterations. It was therefore possible to remove Prokofiev's additions like a layer later applied to a painting, allowing the original music to be reliably reconstructed.

Individuality and re-evaluation

The carefully edited first edition of the original film score formed the basis for the new recording and for the modern showing of the film in conjunction with a live performance of its epochal music, which is sometimes very different from the famous Alexander Nevsky Cantata. Over long stretches, the original score is far less melodramatic and more transparent in its instrumentation than that of the cantata. While the cantata ends with a large choral section, the last act of the film is anything but monumental and affects the overall statement made by the film. The new edition of the original music to Alexander Nevsky thus offers the opportunity to thoroughly confront this epochal achievement by Sergey Prokofiev and to revise certain opinions of it that really derive from the popular Alexander Nevsky Cantata.

(1) Initiated and newly edited by the music publishing house of Sikorski Hamburg with the kind support of the Glinka Museum (Central State Museum for Music Culture) and the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art (RGALI), both in Moscow
(2) A DeutschlandRadio, Europäische FilmPhilharmonie, Radio Symphony Orchestra of Berlin and ZDF co production in collaboration with ARTE
(3) Elena Jegerowa: Zur Filmmusik Sergej Prokofjews, in: Internationales Musikfestival Sergej Prokofjew und zeitgenössische Musik aus der Sowjetunion. Duisburg 1990, p. 303
(4) Oksana Bulgakowa: Sergej Eisenstein - drei Utopien, Architekturentwürfe zur Filmtheorie. Berlin 1998, p. 147
(5) Elena Jegerowa, p. 306

О самой музыке нового сказать сложно, а вот как переработали немцы материал достойно уважения. Динамика звучания действительно очень сильно поменялась. А вот пространственной агрессии авторы проекта постарались избежать. Хотя, читая выше как Прокофьев работал со звуком к фильма, не исключаю, что он развернул бы очень активную звуковую картину вокруг, по крайней мере, в сцене ледового побоища. А что имеется здесь. Достаточно широкая, но ограниченная по глубине картина. Иногда резкие фанфары тевтонцев звучат сбоку глубоко сзади. Или появление рыцарей из далека спереди, как в кино. Атака русских тоже очень экранна, под фильм – высокие звуки впереди на линии фронтов, с поддержкой низких по всему пространству. Исключительно великолепен звук, хоры, колокола. Под него фильм смотреть было бы одно удовольствие.

Музыка – 10
Запись – 10
Многоканальность - 7

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