The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: This Sunday afternoon, the Madison Symphony Orchestra takes listeners “Behind the Score” of the Symphony No. 5 by Prokofiev | January 16, 2020

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By Jacob Stockinger

This Sunday afternoon, Jan. 19, at 2:30 p.m. in Overture Hall, the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below, in a photo by Peter Rodgers) and MSO music director John DeMain will present the story behind Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 with “Beyond the Score®: Sergei Prokofiev Symphony No. 5: Pure Propaganda?”

The one performance-only concert is a multimedia examination of the Russian composer’s musical celebration of the end of World War II. (You can hear the second movement in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

The presentation stars American Players Theatre actors James Ridge (below top), Colleen Madden (below second), Marcus Truschinski (below third) and Sarah Day (below bottom).

Along with MSO pianist Dan Lyons (below), the concert experience features visual projections, photos and musical excerpts.

Then in the second half comes a full and uninterrupted performance of the Symphony No. 5 by the orchestra conducted by John DeMain (below, in a photo by Prasad).

“This is one of the great offerings of Beyond the Score,” says DeMain. “Three generations of great Russian composers influenced Sergei Prokofiev (below) from childhood into his adult years, helping him create the most popular of his big symphonies, his fifth.

Adds DeMain: “I have so much fun working with the great actors from the American Players Theatre as they interweave the backstory with the orchestra. The visuals for this production are spectacular. After intermission, we play this wonderful symphony in its entirety.”

Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 was published in 1944. Taking inspiration from his experiences in America and his return to the Soviet homeland after the war, Prokofiev expresses the heroic, beautiful and strong nature of the music.

This Beyond the Score production joins Prokofiev at the end of World War II and discovers his inspiration for Symphony No. 5.

Incorporating war video footage and propaganda photos, the program presents the historical context behind the classical piece turned masterpiece.

CONCERT, TICKET AND EVENT DETAILS

The lobby opens 90 minutes prior to each concert. The symphony recommends concert attendees arrive early for each performance to make sure they have time to pass through Overture Center’s security stations.

Program notes are available online for viewing in advance of the concerts: http://bit.ly/msojan20programnotes

  • Single Tickets are $16-$70 each and are on sale now at: https://madisonsymphony.org/event/beyond-the-score-2020-prokofiev/through the Overture Center Box Office at 201 State Street, or by calling the Box Office at (608) 258-4141. Fees apply to online/phone sales.
  • Groups of 10 or more can save 25% by calling the MSO office at (608) 257-3734. For more information, visit, https://www.madisonsymphony.org/groups.
  • Seniors age 62 and up receive 20% savings on advance and day-of-concert ticket purchases in select areas of the hall.

Discounted seats are subject to availability, and discounts may not be combined.

ABOUT BEYOND THE SCORE®

For newcomers to classical music and longtime aficionados alike, each Beyond the Score® presentation is a dramatic exploration of a composer’s music.

Through live actors, stunning visual projections and virtuosic fragments of live music performed by members of the orchestra, the compelling story of the composer’s life and art unfolds, illuminating the world that shaped the music’s creation. Beyond the Score presentations weave together theater, music and design to draw audiences into the concert hall and into a work’s spirit.

The popular program seeks to open the door to the symphonic repertoire for first-time concertgoers as well as to encourage an active, more fulfilling way of listening for seasoned audiences.

At its core is the live format of musical extracts, spoken clarification, theatrical narrative, and hand-paced projections on large central surfaces, performed in close synchrony.

After each program, audiences return from intermission to experience the resulting work performed in a regular concert setting, equipped with a new understanding of its style and genesis.

Beyond the Score® is a production of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Gerard McBurney, Creative Director for Beyond the Score®

Exclusive funding for this concert is provided by the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation.

 


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4 Comments »

  1. Here’s a much better (and mostly unknown) Russian symphony that portrays the journey through life, or a river going to the sea:

    Comment by fflambeau — January 18, 2020 @ 4:22 am

  2. Top 10 Russian composers of the 20th century:

    1. Sergei Rachmaninoff;
    2. Igor Stravinsky;
    3. Aram Katchaturian;
    4. Dimitri Shostakovich;
    5. Alexander Scriabin;
    6. Nikolai Medtner;
    7. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (barely on the basis of time)
    8. Dimitri Tiomkin;
    9. Alfred Schnittke;
    10. Sergei Koussevitzsky

    Prokofiev is not even in my top 10.

    Comment by fflambeau — January 17, 2020 @ 1:43 am

  3. Is there a “Beyond the Score” program for the Sibelius 5th symphony? Now that’s a great one, unlike this poor man’s version of Mahler (with none of his charm or wit) which is way to heavy on percussive effects.

    Comment by fflambeau — January 16, 2020 @ 2:56 am

  4. These beyond the score programs, developed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, are marvelous.

    However, my belief is that Prokofiev is the least “big” of the big 3 of Russian music in the 20th century following at a far distance: Shostakovich, and Aram Khachaturian. Unlike AK and Tchaikovsky in particular, he was poor with melodies. There were far better Russian composers as well in California at the same time.

    This may be his best symphony but is it really very good? I would much prefer listening to the other Russians or Sibelius.

    Comment by fflambeau — January 16, 2020 @ 2:25 am


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