The Film Music Review

Ryan’s review:

Never mind the low-energy ditherings of John Williams. The greatest-ever movie music was composed by Sergei Prokofiev, and this excellent album, one of the finest in the library’s collection, brings together his scores for Ivan the Terrible, Alexander Nevsky, and Lieutenant Kizheh. These commissions date from the Stalinist years, when the culturally corrosive internationalism and experimentation of early Bolshevik rule were rolled back in favor of a new national culture that would harness Russia’s patriotic and even Christian energies in advance of the confrontation with Hitler. Ivan the Terrible, with its heavenly choral sections, blaring brass, and resounding bells, is Stalinist triumphalism at its most spectacular. Lieutenant Kizheh, often paired on CD with Alexander Nevsky, is far from mere programmatic filler, and rates among Prokofiev’s most engaging works. It sounds wonderful on this disc, and you will never hear a lustier version of Kizheh’s “Romance” than the one sung by bass Arnold Voketaitis. Alexander Nevsky invites audiences to find a parallel between the threat posed by an ascendant National Socialist Germany and the medieval menace of the Teutonic knights bested by the titular Russian national hero and saint in the Battle on the Ice at Lake Peipus in 1242. The unholy chant of the Teutons, the spirit-lift and blood inspiration of the anthem “Arise, Ye Russian People”, and the solemnity of the field of the dead are all rendered movingly. Prokofiev, as given voice by Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, leaves the listener in little doubt that western aggressors will be destroyed, so watch out for thin ice, imperialists!

Click here to find The Film Music by Sergei Prokofiev