„Rīgas Laiks” Festival opening with Prokofiev's cantata
Latvian National Symphony Orchestra (LNSO) led by Normunds Šnē will perform the cantata at the festival opening concert.
„Cantata for the 20th anniversary of the October Revolution” is a musical work in ten parts written for symphony orchestra, military band, bayan orchestra, percussion ensemble, two choirs and a narrator. It was intended to perform the cantata at The Red Square in Moscow in order to celebrate Petrograd Revolution in 1917 when the Bolshevik Party led by Lenin seized control of the government in Russia.
Unfortunately, it was not played at all as Stalin listened to it and postponed the performance, however, the premiere was held thirty years later. For Latvia, cantata will be performed for the first time.
„Prokofiev’s cantata is a musical provocation,” says conductor and composer Andris Vecumnieks. „In 1937, this hypersurrealistic musical piece enraged Stalin who could not recognize the socialist signs in it at all, therefore, he took it as an offence towards The Soviet authorities.”
Vecumnieks thinks that such provocative musical work as Prokofiev’s cantata urges to think of author’s intentions more and more. „It’s a beautiful, splendid, grand musical piece where also various texts by Lenin, Stalin, Marx and Engels have been used. Prokofiev wished to perform the cantata at The Red Square, though, it was not allowed at that time Soviet Union as the authorities did not quite understand whether this piece dignified the Soviet Union or if it was just a grin towards that time political regime."
The performance of cantata was denied until 1966, till that time, only few music researchers were aware of its existence. The musical piece was emerged again in 1990s when Estonian conductor Neeme Järvi performed it outside Russia, so did conductor Valery Gergiev during 2000s.”
Vecumnieks also notes: „By performing this musical piece in Riga, we will experience a great event letting spectators to find out what Prokofiev’s intention was to create this work: whether it was a duty to Soviet regime, honoring the authorities or just an irony. The premiere performance will also allow to understand if today we are able to get distanced from all the existing political subtexts. In a way, we will test our own thinking.”
Indra Lūkina, director of The Latvian National Opera, tells that everyone should attend this concert as it’s rather an exclusive chance to hear this musical piece. „Members of the orchestra feel particularly glad they can take part at „Rīgas Laiks” Festival especially considering the unique message of Prokofiev’s cantata.”
As previously said, „Rīgas Laiks” Festival is dedicated to the 20th anniversary of „Rīgas Laiks” magazine. The festival will be organized from November 4 to 10, various cultural events will be offered such as exhibitions, concerts, movies, intellectual discussions and meetings with contributors from „Rīgas Laiks”.
To find full programme of „Rīgas Laiks” Festival, click here