I really should have resisted from labelling this blog as I have done, because really, it is an insult to this fantastic composer to be linked to a bloody reality television show. Everyone knows the theme tune to The Apprentice, and the man behind it is one Sergei Prokofiev.
Geniuses are not always the most handsome of buggers
While Dance Of The Knights is the most famous piece from Prokofiev’s score for Romeo and Juliet, there are so many delicious sections within the entire movement that twist, soar and blare at one’s aural sense. Prokofiev’s sense of melody and feel perfectly matches the wretched love story that is Romeo and Juliet, and having recently witnessed the Royal Ballet of Canada perform it in London, the monstrous and thunderous nature of the music is truly spectacular and, quite frankly, somewhat terrifying.
Classical music is the beginning point for any form of music today, and to not acknowledge its influence and importance is wrong. To label it ‘boring’ is criminal, especially when there are so many melodies from the wildly simplistic to the most intricate and interesting of scores. Prokofiev is one composer who managed to do it all, with the distinct Russian feel that other composers such as Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Mily Balakirev had developed before him.
I have hauled out some of the musical passages that I particularly love from Romeo and Juliet, but to do the whole piece justice and really marvel at what Prokofiev has created, find a few hours on a miserable, rainy day with which to get comfortable on a snug sofa and listen through from start to finish via some big, closed cup headphones.
Firstly, the piece for Act I, Scene XII: Masks. An eerie and instantly memorable melody, the music elegantly bobs along with the violins playing in a lower register before gradually becoming louder and higher. A highly pleasurable and oddly relaxing listen!
Secondly, Act I, Scene VI: The Fight. If Grade 25 exists for the violin, then this is the section you probably have to play to pass it. A lightning fast flurry of violins normally, the orchestra in this video take it to a whole new level. Repeatedly rising to the crescendo and falling away dramatically, stunning just about describes it. The detail in the score for each instrument of the orchestra brings this piece together to create a behemoth. The Fight starts from 8.30 and ends on a stop start passage at about 11.10 in this video. Prepare to melt in your seat.
Finally, Act II, Scene XVV: Dance With Mandolins. Another example of a section that builds progressively with each instrument (mandolin, trumpet, clarinet, cello, violin) adding another musical idea, it peaks at 1.30 with a gracefully twisting clarinet line and plucked violins. For a supercharged version, start from 11.26 in the second video.
This is but a tiny portion of the work that Prokofiev has composed, it is quite overwhelming to think of the multitude of music that could be listened to. But, if you need something else to sink your teeth into pronto, then there is also the short and other mildly famous piece that Prokofiev created…….
Believe you me, the rest of that is definitely worth forty minutes of your time.