Wednesday 21 March 2012
Jonathan Dove and Prokofiev at St. Andrew's Hall
The line-up on the night was Nicola-Jane Kemp - Soprano, Jennifer Westwood - Mezzo-Soprano, Martin Hindmarsh - Tenor, Norwich Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, Norwich Cathedral Choristers, Norwich Cathedral Girls' Choir and David Dunnett - Conductor.
There was a Child is large scale piece of communal music by Jonathan Dove that was commissioned in 2009 jointly by the Norfolk and Norwich Festival and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. The commission coincided with a request from a friend whose nineteen year old son had drowned while on holiday ten years before for a musical commemoration of his death which would be a celebration of life that could be shared with lots of people.
The Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein asked Prokofiev to write the score for Alexander Nevsky his first sound film in 1938. The following year the composer developed the score into a cantata to a text he devised in collaboration with V. Nugovskoi. It's seven sections tell the story of Russia's struggles against its enemies in the 13th century culminating in victory over the Teutonic Knights. From the oppression brought by the Tartar invasion onto Russia's defeat of the Swedes under the leadership of Alexander Nevsky, Prince of Novgorod.
The third section's harsh brass chords represent the Germans while the fourth is a call to join Alexander Nevsky's army and repel the foe. In the next section we hear the approach of the German knights, the Russian charge, the fury of battle and eventual Russian victory. In the penultimate scene a Russian girl surveys the battlefield and vows to wed the brave soldier rather then the handsome before Alexander Nevsky's triumphant entry into Pskov.
The was a wonderful and emotional concert at St. Andrew's Hall with splendid performances from the Orchestra and Choir. A large audience ensured this was a night to remember at this historic Norwich venue. There was a Child was a challenging piece for the Norwich Philharmonic to play but they proved they were up to the challenge. In the second half of the concert they brought us Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky which was a great way to bring the 2011/12 season to a close.