Soviet Russia (1917-1953)

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
Comments
01Out Of Chaos20171106

Marina Frolova-Walker discusses how Scriabin and Prokofiev influenced early Soviet music.

How Scriabin and Prokofiev influenced early Soviet music. Donald Macleod talks to Russian music expert Marina Frolova-Walker.

As part of BBC Radio 3's "Breaking Free: A Century of Russian Culture" season, Composer of the Week unravels the lives and masterpieces of the musicians who shaped musical life from the USSR's inception in 1917 through to its dissolution in 1991. In this first week, Donald Macleod explores a host of composers - from familiar names like Shostakovich and Prokofiev to lesser-known, though no less brilliant, figures like Gavriil Popov and Alexander Mosolov - whose music documents the turbulent and fascinating story of Russia up to Stalin's death in 1953.

Donald is joined by the Russian music expert Marina Frolova-Walker as they explore the tensions, censorship and cultural terror of the 1920s and 30s, followed by the trauma of the Second World War and finally the infamous Zhdanov affair of the late 1940s, which censured some of the USSR's foremost composers.

In this first programme, Donald explore two hugely influential - yet starkly different - composers of the USSR's early years: Alexander Scriabin, who had died in 1915 yet whose music was venerated, and the thrusting young prodigy Sergei Prokofiev.

Prokofiev
Tempestuoso (Sarcasms, Op 19)
Matti Raekallio, piano

Scriabin
Prometheus: The Poem of Fire
Martha Argerich, piano
Berlin Singakademie
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Claudio Abbado, conductor

Scriabin
Piano Sonata No 7, Op 64, "White Mass"
Arcadi Volodos, piano

Prokofiev
Largamente; Con eleganza; Allegretto tranquillo; Feroce (Visions Fugitives)
Steven Osborne, piano

Prokofiev
Violin Concerto No.1 (3rd mvt)
James Ehnes, violin
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Gianandrea Noseda, conductor.

02Machines And Mutations: Roslavets And Mosolov20171107

Russian music expert Marina Frolova-Walker discusses Mosolov and Roslavets.

Machines and Mutations: the music of Alexander Mosolov and Nikolai Roslavets. Donald Macleod talsk to Russian music expert Marina Frolova-Walker.

As part of BBC Radio 3's "Breaking Free: A Century of Russian Culture" season, Composer of The Week unravels the lives and masterpieces of the musicians that shaped musical life from the USSR's inception in 1917 through to its dissolution in 1991. In this first week, Donald Macleod explores a host of composers - from familiar names like Shostakovich and Prokofiev to lesser-known, though no less brilliant, figures like Gavriil Popov and Alexander Mosolov - whose music documents the turbulent and fascinating story of Russia up to Stalin's death in 1953.

Donald is joined by the Russian music expert Marina Frolova-Walker as they explore the tensions, censorship and cultural terror of the 1920s and 30s, followed by the trauma of the Second World War and finally the infamous Zhdanov affair of the late 1940s, which censured some of the USSR's foremost composers.

Today, Donald and Marina tell the story of two composers whose brilliant, daring music fell tragically foul of the authorities: Alexander Mosolov and Nikolai Roslavets.

Mosolov
Zavod (The Iron Foundry)
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Riccardo Chailly, conductor

Roslavets
Three Compositions for Piano (1914)
Marc-André Hamelin, piano

Roslavets
Piano Trio No 3
Trio Fontenay

Mosolov
Piano Concerto, Op 14
Stefan Schleiermacher, piano
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
Johannes Kalitzke, conductor.

03Soviet Symphonica: Miaskovsky And Popov20171108

Donald Macleod speaks to Marina Frolova-Walker about Myaskovsky and Popov.

Donald Macleod speaks to Russian music expert Marina Frolova-Walker about two giants of the Soviet symphony: Nikolai Myaskovsky and Gavriil Popov.

As part of BBC Radio 3's "Breaking Free: A Century of Russian Culture" season, Composer of the Week unravels the lives and masterpieces of the musicians that shaped musical life from the USSR's inception in 1917 through to its dissolution in 1991. In this first week, Donald Macleod explores a host of composers - from familiar names like Shostakovich and Prokofiev to lesser-known, though no less brilliant, figures like Gavriil Popov and Alexander Mosolov - whose music documents the turbulent and fascinating story of Russia up to Stalin's death in 1953.

Donald is joined by the Russian music expert Marina Frolova-Walker as they explore the tensions, censorship and cultural terror of the 1920s and 30s, followed by the trauma of the Second World War and finally the infamous Zhdanov affair of the late 1940s, which censured some of the USSR's foremost composers.

Today Donald and Marina unravel the legacy of two very different symphonists. First, Nikolai Myaskovsky, once described by Shostakovich as "the Russian Vaughan Williams", whose prodigious output of symphonies (27 in all) blend dark Romanticism with shards of modernism. Then Gavriil Popov, author of only one symphony of real note (he completed six), yet whose first essay in the genre is amongst the most arresting, brilliant and chaotic musical creations of all Russian 20th-century music.

Myaskovsky
Prelude (Madrigal, Op 7)
Hibla Gerzmava, soprano
Ekaterin Ganilena, piano

Myaskovsky
Symphony No 10
State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia
Evgeny Svetlanov

Myaskovsky
String Quartet No 1 in A minor, Op 33 No 1 (3rd mvt)
Renoir Quartet

Popov
Symphony No 1 (1st mvt)
Moscow State Symphony Orchestra
Gennady Provatorov, conductor.

04A Tale Of Dmitri And Dmitry: Shostakovich And Kabalevsky20171109

Donald Macleod and Marina Frolova-Walker discuss Dmitri Shostakovich and Dmitry Kabalevsky

Donald Macleod talks to Marina Frolova-Walker about the "two Dmitri/ys" - Shostakovich and Kabalevsky - and their very different relationships with the state.

As part of BBC Radio 3's "Breaking Free: A Century of Russian Culture" season, Composer of the Week unravels the lives and masterpieces of the musicians that shaped musical life from the USSR's inception in 1917 through to its dissolution in 1991. In this first week, Donald Macleod explores a host of composers - from familiar names like Shostakovich and Prokofiev to lesser-known, though no less brilliant, figures like Gavriil Popov and Alexander Mosolov - whose music documents the turbulent and fascinating story of Russia up to Stalin's death in 1953.

Donald is joined by the Russian music expert Marina Frolova-Walker as they explore the tensions, censorship and cultural terror of the 1920s and 30s, followed by the trauma of the Second World War and finally the infamous Zhdanov affair of the late 1940s, which censured some of the USSR's foremost composers.

In today's episode, Donald and Marina tell the story of Dmitri Shostakovich's infamous censure by the state in the mid-1930s, at which time he was accused of writing "Muddle Instead of Music", and after which he lived in fear for his life. His story is juxtaposed with that of Dmitry Kabalevsky - a favourite of the state, yet whose music often dazzles with lyricism and imagination.

Kabalevsky
Galop from "The Comedians"
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Vassily Sinaisky, conductor

Shostakovich
Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, Op 29 (Scene 2 Interlude - opening of Scene 3)
Galina Vishnevskaya, soprano
Dimiter Petkov, bass
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Mstislav Rostropovich, conductor

Kabalevsky
Piano Concerto No 2, Op 23 (1st mvt)
Kathryn Stott, piano
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Vassily Sinaisky, conductor

Shostakovich
Symphony No 4 (3rd mvt)
Scottish National Orchestra
Neeme Järvi, conductor.

05Zhdanovschina: Khrennikov And Prokofiev20171110

Donald Macleod unravels the contrasting fates of Sergei Prokofiev and Tikhon Khrennikov.

Donald Macleod and Marina Frolova-Walker unravel the contrasting fates of Sergei Prokofiev - who died the same day as Stalin - and Soviet Composers' Union head Tikhon Khrennikov.

As part of BBC Radio 3's "Breaking Free: A Century of Russian Culture" season, Composer of the Week unravels the lives and masterpieces of the musicians that shaped musical life from the USSR's inception in 1917 through to its dissolution in 1991. In this first week, Donald Macleod explores a host of composers - from familiar names like Shostakovich and Prokofiev to lesser-known, though no less brilliant, figures like Gavriil Popov and Alexander Mosolov - whose music documents the turbulent and fascinating story of Russia up to Stalin's death in 1953.

Donald is joined by the Russian music expert Marina Frolova-Walker as they explore the tensions, censorship and cultural terror of the 1920s and 30s, followed by the trauma of the Second World War and finally the infamous Zhdanov affair of the late 1940s, which censured some of the USSR's foremost composers.

In the final episode of this week, Donald and Marina discuss the return of the "prodigal son" of Soviet music, Sergei Prokofiev - and the grim reality of his final years in the USSR. As the week builds towards the pivotal events of 1948 - when Prokofiev, Shostakovich and others were officially denounced by the state - they explore the nebulous reputation, and sometime musical brilliance, of Tikhon Khrennikov, the infamous head of the Soviet Composers' Union.

Khrennikov: The Half-Moon Shines (Into the Storm)
Daniil Shtoda, tenor
Russian Philharmonia
Constantin Orbelian, conductor

Khrennikov: Piano Concerto No 1 (1st mvt)
Tikhon Khrennikov
USSR State Symphony Orchestra
Evgeny Svetlanov, conductor

Prokofiev: Revolution (Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution)
Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus
Neeme Järvi, conductor

Prokofiev: Piano Sonata No 7 (2nd and 3rd mvts)
Boris Giltburg, piano

Khrennikov: Scene of Kuzma and Glasha (Pig-Tender and Shepherd)
[film soundtrack, 1941]

Prokofiev: Symphony No 6 (2nd mvt)
London Symphony Orchestra
Valery Gergiev.