Gabriel Prokofiev: Concerto for Turntables and Orchestra, etc

Mr Switch (turntables); Ural Philharmonic Orchestra/Alexey Bogorad, et al (Signum Classics)

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CD_SIGCD628_Prokofiev

Gabriel Prokofiev
Concerto for Turntables & Orchestra*; Cello Concerto**
Mr Switch* (turntables), Boris Andrianov (cello); Ural Philharmonic Orchestra/Alexey Bogorad
Signum Classics SIGCD628   48:37 mins

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Composed in 2006, Gabriel Prokofiev’s Concerto for Turntables No. 1 dexterously brings together traditions old and new from seemingly antithetical cultures. Far more than a mash-up of classical orchestra and hip-hop, its stylistic spectrum embraces Baroque dance forms and 19th-century Romanticism – with a nod to then-fashionable piano duels – Stravinsky and jazz, as well as today’s diverse urban street scene.

The full symphonic version is recorded here alongside the 2012 Cello Concerto, arguably the most conventional – but hardly uninventive – of Prokofiev’s many concertos to date. Under conductor Alexey Bogorad, the Ural Philharmonic Orchestra and respective soloists Mr Switch (turntables) and Boris Andrianov (cello) bring to each a spirit of adventure, and a sense of history rendered poignant in the latter work’s memorialising of family members crushed by Soviet repression. But the overall tone is typically up-beat – and off-beat. Showcasing an array of virtuoso DJ techniques, Switch parleys with the orchestra, sampling its material then throwing it back spliced, looped and manipulated into shapes like balloons at a party. That the soloist’s part was overdubbed is impressive, and a reminder that classical recording – not just grime and garage et al – has always relied on technology.

The sense of spontaneity is carried into the Cello Concerto where five dramatic movements become three, arranged around the central Russia-focused Lento. From nervous agitation to playful delicacy and deep feeling, Andrianov emerges from the orchestra in a way which foregrounds Prokofiev’s thoughtful optimism, so contrasting his grandfather’s suffering, sardonic edge.

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Steph Power