London, 5 March 2003
A large audience turned up for the Prokofiev Anniversary Gala Concert, held on the anniversary of Prokofiev's death at St John's, Smith Square, London. Noelle Mann appeared first to introduce the programme. She recalled how a similar concert had been held at Prokofiev's funeral, including a performance of two movements from his tragic First Violin Sonata played by David Oistrakh. This had been an occasion overshadowed by Stalin's funeral, and only a handful of Prokofiev's colleagues, friends and relatives had been able to attend. Now, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of his death, there was an almost full house, including members of the Prokofiev family from all over Europe. Four great Russian musicians were to present the programme, generously performing for no fee but to serve Prokofiev's memory and to help raise funds for the Serge Prokofiev Association.
The concert started with Mikhaïl Rudy playing a selection from Visions Fugitives, followed by the playful C major Prelude, Op 12, and finally Four Pieces from Romeo and Juliet. 'Romeo and Juliet before parting' in particular cast its spell, the ticking ostinato which wound down the movement somehow deeply apposite to the memory of the composer. Rudy then returned to the platform with violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky to give a superb performance of the First Violin Sonata. After the interval, Alexander Ivashkin gave a predictably committed and vividly characterised performance of the Cello Sonata, superlatively accompanied by Dimitri Alexeev. Finally, Alexeev's transcendental performance of the Sixth Sonata proved to be not only the highlight of the concert, but food for a lifetime's memory. (See more)
(A full report of the Gala Concert appears in the next issue of Three Oranges)