St Petersburg, Concert Hall

Prokofiev for children

Marking 125 years since the birth of Sergei Prokofiev

Maria Bayankina (soprano)
Diana Kazarian (soprano)
Alexander Timchenko (tenor)

The Mariinsky Orchestra
Conductor: Svetlana Filippovich

Ensemble of soloists of the Mariinsky Academy of Young Opera Singers
Chorus Master: Pavel Teplov 
Accompanists: Natalia Zaripova, Alexei Tikhomirov

Sergei Prokofiev
The Ugly Duckling
Ballad of an Unknown Boy

About the Concert

Sergei Prokofiev’s cantata Ballad of an Unknown Boy to a text by Pavel Antokolsky rarely appears on recordings or in concert halls. Among Prokofiev’s works from the war years it stands apart for its tragic plot – uncharacteristic for the composer: a boy partisan taking revenge for the deaths of his mother and sister blows up a Nazi staff car and dies himself. This plot did not fit in with the Soviet canon of works about war, and fellow composers gave the cantata an icy reception due to the clearly highly declamatory character of the vocal roles. For the first and only time during the composer’s lifetime the cantata was performed in 1944, and it only returned to the stage more than twenty years later.
The cantata is in one movement and it has several sections. The first is dominated by march-like rhythms reminiscent of the “episode of the invasion” from Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony. The story of the boy is told by soloists – a soprano and a tenor – accompanied by a chorus. The expansive orchestral intermezzo leads to the final section, which tells of the boy’s feat, and the culmination in major key.
Vladimir Khavrov

Age category 6+

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