The two Sergeis: giant men, giant pianists, and giant composers whose music has not always gotten the respect it deserves. Rachmaninov’s place in the pantheon of romantic composers is sometimes overshadowed by his status as perhaps the greatest pianist of the recorded era. Prokofiev struggled with emerging modernism before settling into a neoromanticism that has sometimes been considered selling out to his Soviet masters.
Our stylistic comparison will cover their solo piano works – the percussive virtuosity of Prokofiev and the romantic exuberance of Rachmaninov – their symphonies and other works; and their monumental piano concertos. Music literacy is not required.
Recommended Books - Rachmaninov & Prokofiev
This list does not yet contain any items.Sergei Rachmaninoff: A Lifetime in Music (Russian Music Studies) (Paperback)
by Sergei Bertensson (Author), Jay Leyda (Author), Sophia Satina (Author)Prokofiev’s Piano Sonatas: A Guide for the Listener and the Performer (Hardcover)
by Boris Berman (Author)
Berman has recorded the complete Prokofiev piano sonatas.Sergei Prokofiev: Materials, Articles, Interviews (Hardcover)
by Vladimir Blok, compiler.A History of Russian Music: From Kamarinskaya to Babi Yar (Paperback)
by Francis Maes (Author)“In book 2 of War and Peace Tolstoy transports us to the Russia of our dreams in his delightful account of the hunt in the…”Prokofiev—A Biography: From Russia to the West 1891-1935 (Hardcover)
(Author)“All happy families resemble one another, Tolstoy tells us; and well-to-do happy families in the Russian countryside before the Revolution, so countless emigre accounts would…”Rachmaninoff (Master Musicians Series) (Paperback)
by Geoffrey Norris (Author)Diaries 1915-1923: Behind the Mask
By Sergei ProkofievSelected Letters Of Sergei Prokofiev (Hardcover)
(Editor, Translator)Sergei Prokofiev: A Biography (Paperback)
by Harlow Robinson (Author)Rachmaninoff (Illustrated Lives of the Great Composers) (Paperback)
by Robert Walker (Author)
Resources for Prokofiev's War and Peace
Among Prokofiev’s operas, only Love for Three Oranges enjoys more popularity outside Russia than War and Peace. But there haven’t been terribly many performances — the most recent is the Opera Bastille DVD from 2000. The two outings at the Met (2002 and 2007) weren’t recorded and one must go to YouTube to hear current standouts like Anna Netrebkho and Dmitri Hvorostovsky.
I have added a few of these videos at the bottom of this page.
DVDs and CDs
by Leo Tolstoy
Translators, Orlando Figes, and Anthony Briggs.
by Marianne Sturman
by Leo Tolstoy
An electronic edition readable on Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader.
starring Olga Gouriakova, Nathan Gunn (III), Robert Brubaker (III), Anatoli Kocherga, Yelena Obraztsova
Gary Bertini conducts this Opera Bastille production, directed by Francesca Zembello. Natasha: Olga Guriakova, Prince Andrei: Nathan Gunn, Pierre: Robert Brubaker.
starring Viacheslav Trofimov, Mikhail Chernozhukov, Svetlana Volkova, Mikhail Yegorov, Igor Yan
A 1993 Kirov production, with understandably cheapo sets, times being what they were. In the first half, the lighting is terrible! However, it’s the only DVD conducted by Gergiev and not much is cut out of Part 2.
by Mikhail Chernykhovsky, Evgeny Fedotov, Ludmilla Filatova, Tatjana Filimonova, Slava Fomin, Nikolai Gassiev, Valery Gergiev
Conducted by Valery Gergiev.
From the 1999 Spoleto Festival, conducted by Richard Hickox and performed by ENO artists.
Rostropovich conducts the only cut-free recording, with late-career performances by Galina Vishnevskaya (Natasha) and Nicolai Gedda (Kuragin) among the standout singers. Nicola Ghiuselev is an excellent Kutuzov.
A wonderful performance with many cuts, mostly of the patriotic stuff in Part 2. Alexander Melik-Pashayev conducts this 1961 Bolshoi effort featuring Galina Vishnevskaya in her prime as Natasha and a sadly unsung (in the west) Russian lyric baritone by the name of Evgeny Kibalko as a definitive Prince Andrei.
by Valery Gergiev (conductor)
Souvenier playbill from the Met’s 2002 production.
A few highlights from recent productions.
Boris Statsenko performs the complete Napoleon scene (Scene 9)
Dmitri Hvorostovksy and Anna Netrebkho perform Prince Andrei’s death scene (Scene 12). I assume this is taken from the 2002 Met radio broadcast.
Nikita Stotojev performs Kutuzov’s aria in recital: