GABRIEL PROKOFIEV (b.1975): Concerto for Turntables No. 1 (Symphonic Version), Cello Concerto.
Catalogue Number: 06V065
Description: The primary musical career of the conservatory-trained composer (Birmingham and York universities), and grandson of ... (if anybody still doesn’t know this) was as DJ in the field of hip hop and club music. The concerto for turntables was the work that established him back in the concert music world. To be honest, turntables are unlikely to become a standard concert solo instrument, but in the world of electroacoustic music they are at least as versatile a way of incorporating and manipulating pre-recorded material in a composition as any other, 'live' and with the flexibility of a human soloist. The ‘instrument' can mix, overlap, repeat, and generate loops and percussive fragments of sampled sounds, which in the case of this work are all recorded fragments of especially composed orchestral sounds, so that the entire work is 'played' by the orchestra for a kind of sonic integrity sometimes lacking in works for acoustic instruments with electronically generated sounds. The music is strongly rhythmic, and the pre-recorded sounds frequently (but by no means always) presented in the ubiquitous 'scratching' timbres of the style's hip hop origins, though in the slow fourth movement a sampled flute is 'played' rather like a Theremin, and the last movement contains a clever passage of pizzicato strings duetting with loops of their sampled selves. The vocabulary is entirely tonal and aside from the unusual solo instrument and the pulsing beats - by no means monotonous or unvarying, rather the reverse in fact - the vocabulary would not be alien to many mainstream 20th century composers. The 2012 Cello Concerto, commissioned for a Russian soloist and orchestra, forges a connection between the composer’s ‘classical' heritage and his 'day job' in ‘popular' music. A scherzando episode toward the end of the light, lively first movement could almost be by the composer’s grandfather; the beginning of the movement is a pulsing dance like the rhythmic music of the turntable concerto. The slow movement "in memoriam" refers to the constant terrors and uncertainties of Prokofiev’s family in the Stalin years. The opening and closing sections of this tenebrous movement are underpinned by an ominous ostinato rhythm, while its central part is glacial, shocked, withdrawn and despairing. The cello's whispered lament is both moving and disturbing, the absent voice of a victim of the gulags. The finale humorously parodies pounding hip hop rhythms and melodic material that sounds as though it refers back to dances from Russian ballets in a galumphing mock-waltz. Mr. Switch (turntables), Boris Andrianov (cello), Ural Philharmonic; Alexey Bogorad.