Prokofiev, Bartok Interviews

(Via Jessica Duchen, British music writer and Korngold biographer.)

In this 1944 radio interview in English, Bela Bartok discusses the pieces in an upcoming recital by his wife. At this time, he was suffering from leukemia and had a little over a year to live. Bartok’s English is fluent, but his accent charmingly has a little Peter Lorre flavor (make that “Peter Lorre impersonator” flavor, since the real Lorre had an additional Viennese sound that Mel Blanc et al. missed.) Bartok speaks in some detail about forms and folk influences of these pieces.

And here’s a short video of Sergei Prokofiev playing the piano and talking about what he’s composing. The excerpt is from Scene 5 of his opera War and Peace, which had just had a partial concert performance in Leningrad. At that moment (the middle section of the waltz), Anatole Kuragin has been going after the engage Natasha, and he gets her alone to kiss her and hand her a love letter. The entire scene IS the waltz, except for Natasha’s interjections in her own musical style, which wane in strength as the scene goes on.

Courtesy of YouTube member bramley88: Prokofiev is asked: “Sergei Sergeevich, maybe you will tell our viewers about your work?”

He replies: “Well, right now I am working on a symphonic suite of waltzes, which will include three waltzes from Cinderella, two waltzes from the War and Peace, and one waltz from the movie score “Lermontov.” [War and Peace] has just been brilliantly produced in Leningrad, where the composer Cheshko (?) made an especially noteworthy appearance as a tenor, giving a superb performance in the role of Pierre Bezukhoff. Besides this suite, I am working on a sonata for violin and piano [no.1 in f minor], upon completion of which I will resume work on the sixth symphony, which I had started last year. I have just completed three suites from the Cinderella ballet and I am now turning the score over to copyists for writing the parts, so that most likely the suites will already be performed at the beginning of the fall season.”

Today’s post is by Bonnie Gibbons.

The scene Prokofiev plays above is very astutely directed in this DVD by Francesca Zembello:

Prokofiev - War and Peace / Bertini, Gunn, Kit, Mamsirova, Gouriakova, Brubaker, Paris Opera starring Olga Gouriakova, Nathan Gunn, Robert Brubaker, Anatoli Kocherga, Yelena Obraztsova