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Semyon Kotko: Comp

Sergei Prokofiev Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 81.57
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Product Details

Disc: 1
1. Semyon Kotko: Act I: Introduction
2. Semyon Kotko: Act I, Tableau 1, Scene 1: Shol soldat s fronta
3. Semyon Kotko: Act I, Tableau 1, Scene 2: Kovo nado?
4. Semyon Kotko: Act I, Tableau 2, Scene 1: Prishol soldat Semyon Kotko
5. Semyon Kotko: Act I, Tableau 2, Scene 2: Prosnulsa, odelsa
6. Semyon Kotko: Act I, Tableau 2, Scene 3: Den dobriy, tovarishchi sosedi
7. Semyon Kotko: Act I, Tableau 2, Scene 4: Ochen nam priyatno vnov uvidet vas
8. Semyon Kotko: Act I, Tableau 2, Scene 5: Shol soldat s fronta
9. Semyon Kotko: Act I, Tableau 2, Scene 6: Shto, moyo serdenko?
10. Semyon Kotko: Act I, Tableau 2, Scene 7: Zdravstvuy, soldat!
See all 23 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Semyon Kotko: Act Three, Scene 1: I snitsya mne opyat
2. Semyon Kotko: Act Three, Scene 2: Sonya! Tse ti?
3. Semyon Kotko: Act Three, Scene 3: Nu shto ti skazhesh?
4. Semyon Kotko: Act Three, Scene 4: I snitsa mne, Mikola, son
5. Semyon Kotko: Act Three, Scene 5: Rano, rano, ranenko
6. Semyon Kotko: Act Three, Scene 6: Ne slikhat...
7. Semyon Kotko: Act Three, Scene 7: Dyadya Tsaryov...dyadya Tsaryov...
8. Semyon Kotko: Act Three, Scene 8: Permettez-moi de parler francais
9. Semyon Kotko: Act Three, Scene 9: Razreshite predstavit vam
10. Semyon Kotko: Act Three, Scene 10: Net, net, to ne Vasilyok
See all 28 tracks on this disc

Product Description


The Kirov Opera has done a great service by making Sergei Prokofiev's operas accessible to Western audiences whose familiarity with that aspect of the composer's career is sadly limited. Semyon Kotko won't crowd La Bohème off the boards, but it should please Prokofiev buffs. It's not without problems. The story wavers between village comedy and wartime brutality, and the plot line's political correctness is pitched to succeed in Stalin's Soviet Union. But the melodies come easy, even when sung by cardboard characters, and the orchestration is compelling. In Act III, Prokofiev transcended his material, writing a moving love duet and tense, forward-moving dramatic scenes. A topnotch cast, dynamic conducting and orchestral playing, and Philips's best sound in its Kirov Opera series should tempt those even vaguely interested in mid-century Russian music. --Dan Davis

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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Music - A Stunning Performance Feb. 3 2004
Format:Audio CD
It was a performance of Semyon Kotko attended by a young Sviatoslav Richter that drew the admiration of the young pianist for the music of Sergei Prokofiev. Semyon Kotko is an opera with a checkered history. Prokofiev wanted the opera to be staged by the famed director Vsevold Meyerhold, a critic of the Soviet Union's control over artists, but he was arrested just after Prokofiev had completed his piano score of the opera and was never seen again. The composer hoped that this opera would be the work that would secure his reputation as a Soviet artist. Since his return to his homeland in 1936, and despite his (now renown) ballet Romeo and Juliet the only work that had received any attention was Peter and the Wolf. Ultimately, Semyon Kotko was not the success that Prokofiev had hoped for but at least he had been able to see the opera staged.
The opera is peopled with characters that are strictly good or bad and it extols the peasant-hero who is victorious over the forces that would crush the Bolshevik utopia. Prokofiev toned down the propaganda element of the story (the libretto was written by the author of the story, Valentin Katayev, that was titled "I am the son of working people"). Semyon Kotko was received with some enthusiasm when it premiered in 1940 but it was withdrawn early in 1941 and not performed until 1958. Since this opera was intended to help the composer find acceptance by the Soviet leadership it could be considered music written to show the composer's desire for acceptance, not reflecting his true desires for the opera. However, this is not the case. It is clear for the opening bars that the music of Semyon Kotko is rich in expression and drama and is connected to the tradition of Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky in treating the characters with their own vocal style.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A rarity unearthed by Gergiev Dec 5 2003
Format:Audio CD
If conductor Valery Gergiev were known for nothing more than bringing obscure operas to light, he would still have a place in history. His valiant advocacy of some of Prokofiev's more obscure work is a case in point, and "Semyon Kotko" must be one of the best examples. It's a shame this work hasn't been performed or recorded more often, since it has all the dramatic impact you could want, and some terrific music.
I was fortunate to see this live in the summer of 2003, performed by Gergiev and the Kirov Opera at the Lincoln Center Festival. The vivid production alone would have made an impact, but the fact is that this opera has some of Prokofiev's most striking, not to mention listenable music. In Act III, for example, when the small village in the story is destroyed, the score reaches a terrifying climax (among other memorable sequences) with a starring role for Olga Savova, who is just one standout in the committed cast.
Perhaps it's the opportunity to bring to life a seldom-done score, but everyone sings with go-for-broke intensity, and the orchestra -- wow, this orchestra -- is up to its usual high standard. The sound quality is also quite good, as are most of these in this Philips series. The libretto includes a few photographs from the Kirov production as well.
It is almost unthinkable that this score might still be lounging around in some library, waiting for a guide like Gergiev to show us that there is something valuable within. For those who love Prokofiev, unusual opera or are just admirers of the conductor's impressive output with the Kirov, this can be easily recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another forgotten Russian opera from The Kirov July 3 2003
Format:Audio CD
At the end of the thirties Prokofiev was distressed because his pieces didn't seem to become that popular. He thought of fixing this by composing a Soviet opera that will please the general public and composed Semyon Kotko. You can hear the composer's intentions in the music, which is very melodic and easily approachable. It lacks the dramatic effects of Fiery Angel and it really doesn't have the same quality of playfulness as Betrothal in a Monastery. And you should remember that Prokofiev isn't trying to be ironic and there are no secret messages in the style of Shostakovich. The story is quite simple and not very gripping apart from the dramatic end of the third act. The characters are one-sided, but fortunately Prokofiev's music brings life into them. Some passages still make it apparent that a great composer has composed this piece. There are some little sounds that characterize the events cleverly but I especially liked Frosya's heartbreaking sorrow song in the third act, which is magnificently interpreted by Olga Savova. Prokofiev also ingeniously develops the material introduced in the song to form a great climax for the act. Unfortunately the endings of the other acts sound very undramatic.
It is usually said that great performers can make decent pieces sound like masterpieces and this is also true of this recording. The Kirov solois are perfectly suited for their parts and I would suspect that Gergiev picked each soloist personally. The recording doesn't contain any of the Kirov-stars, but that isn't necessary for the piece to succeed, because it is a true ensemble-opera. Viktor Lutsiuk has a colourful voice. When he goes very high he sometimes sounds a bit strained but this also suits his poor character well.
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