Tuesday, August 7

Prokofiev and... Byzantine Music

I was listening (for the umpteenth time...)  to Prokofiev's 2nd Piano Concerto the other day, and towards the coda of the 4th Movement, just before the recapitulation of the theme, I realised, for the first time, that for 10 seconds or so, the music coming to my ears was somehow... byzantine! 

The piano was playing a soft and metreless melody which immediately struck me as being completely byzantine in terms of style; and (even more strikingly) the left hand was -as we say in the language of byzantine music- "keeping the ison" (keeping the drone constant, that is). I cannot remember of a similar instance in Prokofiev's piano music. 

What a vivid example of the creative use of such an ancient tradition! This is the challenge, I thought: not simply copying mechanically but incorporating creatively the musical elements of other traditions into one's own musical voice.

It's worth listening to it - move to 3:29.... (By the way, this is a superb live performance by Nikolai Lugansky [one of my favorite pianists], given some years ago at the RAH).

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