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<<  -- 3 --  Bill Newman    PROUD DEFIANCE

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Realism of contrast could not be more effective as we arrive at the 'Epigraph', which Prokofiev added to be played at the opera's beginning but here appears after Scene 7, the chorus announcing the invasion of Russia and the people's strength following Pierre challenging his brother-in-law for his contemptable behaviour. Scene 8: The Night before the battle, in part might be compared with Walton's music for Henry V talking to his troops prior to the Battle of Agincourt, but disguise, jealousy and furtive listenings add piquancy to Prokofiev's scoring at this point. The battle itself, with Napoleon's doubting frustrations countered by the Russian resistance, and the eventual retreat allowing the French to occupy Moscow are vividly realised by the recording during Scenes 9 -11 [listen - CD3, track 1, 0:03-1:01]. As Andrey dies in Natasha's arms following visions of earlier, happier days, we come to the final scene as Napoleon and his army vacate Moscow - so marvellously portrayed by Messonier in his famous 1864 painting. While Pierre is freed from imprisonment by the partisans, his friend Karatayev - Neil Jenkins - is shot for not keeping pace with other prisoners. Kutuzov, on horseback is hailed by his people for a famous victory. Such is the irony of warfare and greed for possessions.

Copyright © 16 September 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK

 

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