Salt Lake City, Utah (September 24, 2019) — On the first of three Utah Symphony recordings to be released this season, Music Director Thierry Fischer and the orchestra perform Prokofiev’s only two-concert works to be based on his music for film—the symphonic suite from Lieutenant Kijé and the Alexander Nevsky cantata. Lieutenant Kijé is a 1934 Soviet satire of Czarist Russia that is best remembered for Prokofiev’s score, while Alexander Nevsky, a 1938 historical drama directed by Sergei Eisenstein, is now considered a classic of Russian cinema. Both are rare examples of films whose music has found a stable place in the concert repertoire. This recording is also the first to document new choral developments under Mr. Fischer, featuring the Utah Symphony Chorus for the first time since it became a professional ensemble and the first to feature the University of Utah choirs since beginning a partnership with the orchestra. Reference Recordings releases the SACD on Friday, October 25. Pre-orders are currently available from amazon.com.
Reflecting on this recording, Mr. Fischer said, “Today, it is so common to hear film music in the concert hall that we almost take it for granted, but all traditions must begin somewhere, and Prokofiev was the first real pioneer in this area. How fortunate we are that such a brilliant composer of symphonies, sonatas, and so forth also showed us the possibilities for film music to be transformed into a powerful live experience inside the concert hall. We at the Utah Symphony are thrilled to document such early works in this tradition!”
The Lieutenant Kijé suite is the first major work for the concert hall based on music from the cinema. The suite depicts episodes in the life of its title character, who is fictional even within the context of the film and its source novella. Based on an anecdote from the time of Emperor Paul I of Russia, the plot satirizes pre-Soviet bureaucracy by showing how a clerical error assigning a promotion to a nonexistent officer named Kijé led to his being continually promoted and eventually summoned to an audience with the Emperor. Upon discovering the mistake and the fact that Kijé does not exist, military bureaucrats cover it up by telling the Emperor that he has died. “What a pity,” the emperor says. “He was a good officer.” Lieutenant Kijé was Prokofiev’s first film score, and he was attracted to the commission not only because of its satirical quality, but also because its setting in 1800 would justify his composing in a more accessible, classically inspired style. The five-movement suite received its 1934 world premiere in Paris under the baton of the composer.
The Alexander Nevsky cantata tells the story of the eponymous historical figure, a medieval Russian prince who has achieved legendary status in Russian culture. Depicting Nevsky’s victory over foreign invaders in the 13th century, the film was the first drama by famed director Sergei Eisenstein to use sound, and he and Prokofiev collaborated closely throughout the creative process. Some scenes were scored after they had already been filmed, while in other cases Eisenstein crafted the scene to fit Prokofiev’s music. The cantata condenses the film score into seven movements for mezzo-soprano, chorus, and orchestra. Premiered in Moscow 1939 with Prokofiev conducting, the work is performed on this recording by the Utah Symphony alongside the Utah Symphony Chorus, University of Utah A Cappella and Chamber Choirs, and mezzo-soprano Alisa Kolosova.
Additional Utah Symphony recordings to be released this season are the final volume of the orchestra’s Saint-Saëns symphony cycle, the first by an American ensemble, which appears in December, and an all-Berlioz album featuring Symphonie fantastique and three rarely heard works, which follows in February. Both are released by Hyperion Records.
About the Utah Symphony
Founded in 1940, the Utah Symphony performs more than 175 concerts each season and offers all Utahns access to world-class live performances of the world’s greatest music in the state’s top venues. Since being named the orchestra’s seventh Music Director in 2009, Thierry Fischer has attracted leading musicians and top soloists, refreshed programming, drawn increased audiences, and galvanized community support. In addition to numerous regional and domestic tours, including the Mighty 5® Tour of Utah’s national parks and last season’s Great American Road Trip, which also included Utah state parks and national monuments, the Utah Symphony has embarked on seven international tours—from Europe to Central and South America—and performed at Carnegie Hall in 2016 coinciding with the orchestra’s 75th anniversary celebrations.
The Utah Symphony has released more than 100 recordings, and recent releases (on Reference Recordings) include Mahler’s Symphonies No. 1 and 8 (2015 and 2017, respectively) and Dawn to Dust (2016), which features three Utah Symphony-commissioned works by Nico Muhly, Andrew Norman, and Augusta Read Thomas. The orchestra’s discography with former Music Director Maurice Abravanel includes not only the complete Mahler symphonies, but also premiere recordings of works by Honegger, Milhaud, Rorem, Satie, Schuman, and Varèse.
Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, the orchestra’s parent organization, reaches 450,000 residents in Utah and the Intermountain region, with educational outreach programs serving more than 155,000 students annually. In addition to performances in its home in Salt Lake City, Abravanel Hall, and concerts throughout the state of Utah, the Utah Symphony participates in Utah Opera’s four annual productions at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre and present the six-week Deer Valley® Music Festival each summer in Park City, Utah.
For more information about the orchestra, visit utahsymphony.org.
Season Sponsor for Utah Symphony | Utah Opera is the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation.
About Thierry Fischer
Now in his 11th season as Music Director of the Utah Symphony, Thierry Fischer has revitalized the orchestra with creative programming, critically acclaimed performances, and new recordings. Highlights of his tenure include a multi-season Haydn symphony cycle; additional cycles of symphonies by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Mahler, Nielsen, and Ives; and a tour of Utah’s five national parks. Appointed Principal Guest of the Seoul Philharmonic in January 2017, Mr. Fischer has also guest-conducted the Atlanta, BBC, Boston, Cincinnati, and Detroit symphony orchestras, Czech Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, London Philharmonic Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Oslo and Rotterdam Philharmonics, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, and the Munich Chamber Orchestra, among others. With the BBC Symphony Orchestra, he conducted the 2015 “Pierre Boulez at 90” concert at London’s Barbican Hall.
Mr. Fischer made his conducting debut in his 30s leading the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, which he led in 2016 on a European tour. He has served as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Ulster Orchestra (2001–06), Chief Conductor of the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra (2008–11), and Principal Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (2006–12), which he led annually at the BBC Proms, frequently in performances of the French repertoire. For more information about Mr. Fischer, visit thierryfischer.com.
Prokofiev: Alexander Nevsky • Lieutenant Kijé Suite
Reference Recordings (Fr-735sacd)
Utah Symphony Chorus
Thierry Fischer, conductor
Alisa Kolosova, Mezzo-soprano
University of Utah A Cappella Choir
University of Utah Chamber Choir
Barlow Bradford, Director
Sergei Prokofiev (1891–1953)
1. Russia under Mongolian Tyranny — 3:29
2. Song of Alexander Nevsky — 3:50
3. The Crusade in Pskov — 7:28
4. Arise, People of Russia — 2:06
5. The Battle on the Ice — 13:46
6. The Field of the Dead — 6:13
7. Alexander enters Pskov — 4:31
Lieutenant Kijé Suite
8. Kijé’s Birth — 3:58
9. Romance — 3:51
10. Kijé’s Wedding — 2:33
11. Troika — 2:42
12. Kijé’s Funeral — 5:22
Total duration: 60:06
Recorded live on November 18 and 19, 2016, at Maurice Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah.