November 17, 2012 |
The Philadelphia Orchestra was performing the score of Alexander Nevsky live as the film screened long before visual add-ons became the imperative of the orchestra experience they are today. The current performances in Verizon Hall are, in fact, the third coincidence at the orchestra of Prokofiev's music and Eisenstein's film (the others were in 1988 and 1997). What was so striking Thursday night about the combination was imagining what would have been lost in a recorded-soundtrack iteration.
May 22, 1988 |
"It seemed impossible to ensure the organic unity of music and picture in the short time allotted to us. It seemed impossible to find and reproduce that wonderful inner synchronization of plastic and musical images, that is, to achieve that in which actually lies the secret of audio-visual impression. " Sergei Eisenstein's morose comments on his misgivings about Alexander Nevsky (1938) rank as one of the most unfounded outbursts of pessimism in the history of movies. This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the release of what became a landmark in Russian cinema, rightly regarded as one of the greatest propaganda films ever made.
March 10, 1997 |
Tomorrow night is the final showing of the Philadelphia Orchestra's enjoyable mixed-media program: Conductor Yuri Temirkanov will stand under a huge screen at the Academy of Music, leading the Philadelphians and the Choral Arts Society in the Sergei Prokofiev accompaniment to Sergei Eisenstein's classic film Alexander Nevsky. All those famous 1938 closeups of hero Nevsky and monster Grand Master, all those noble faces and gnarled, shrunken peasant cheeks. All those cross-bearing and cross-wagging future sources of Monty Python inspiration.
March 7, 1997 |
Yuri Temirkanov was a child in the Caucasus region of the former Soviet Union when he first saw the good guy Prince Alexander battling the Teuton knights in the Sergei Eisenstein-directed, Sergei Prokofiev-scored film Alexander Nevsky. "It was wartime and I loved it; everybody loved it. It reflected the atmosphere," said Temirkanov, who saw the movie during World War II, though it came out in 1938, the year before the war started. Commissioned by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, Alexander Nevsky is about a 13th-century Russian hero who defeats an invading German army, drowning it in a wonderful skirmish called "The Battle on the Ice. " That scene and others should thrill audiences at the Academy of Music tonight, Saturday and Tuesday, when Temirkanov, 58, will lead the Philadelphia Orchestra and Choral Arts Society in the movie score to accompany a screening of Alexander Nevsky.
June 24, 1988 |
In the spring of 1938, two geniuses - the movie director Sergei Eisenstein and the composer Sergei Prokofiev - began their collaboration on Alexander Nevsky. It yielded an operatic fusion of music and image that occupies a special place in the history of the screen. Anyone lucky enough to be among the 15,000 who have tickets for tonight's presentation of Alexander Nevsky at the Mann Music Center - with Yuri Temirkanov leading the Philadelphia Orchestra and the 250-voice Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia in Prokofiev's brilliant score as the film is projected on two giant screens - can confidently expect a very special evening.
June 26, 1988 |
Like the thin ice through which the armored Teutonic knights plunge to their deaths in the climactic battle in Alexander Nevsky, propaganda films tend to collapse under the weight of their crude, original purpose. Movies made to rally and sometimes inflame public opinion rarely survive the conflicts that inspired them in the first place. Why then was the presentation of Alexander Nevsky at the Mann Music Center on Friday night an occasion one came to hoping for a special event and left with that rare feeling of having savored a once-in-a-lifetime experience?
March 8, 1997 |
The tuba grunts and groans, the drums beat and those baddies, the Germans in their bucket helmets with horns, advance across the ice like 13th-century Klu Klux Klanners. The good guys, led by Prince Valiant, aka Alexander Nevsky, drown those Teutons in the end but what a whopping, long, long, long-winded time it takes for the famous Battle on the Ice that filled the Academy of Music last night during the Philadelphia Orchestra's screening of Alexander Nevsky. Oh, the audience seemed to love Sergei Eisenstein's classic film last night as Yuri Temirkanov - standing underneath the giant movie screen - conducted the players and the Choral Arts Society in its Sergei Prokofiev accompaniment.
April 26, 1987 |
Among movie autobiographies, there is none more charming and few more gracefully written than Alec Guinness' Blessings in Disguise. The title signifies the ability of perhaps the most understated - and, even now, underrated - star in movies to vanish magically into a character. We have come to expect this chameleon gift in stars such as Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro, but versatility and disdain for cultivating an image to be recycled and refined in successive films was far less common among the screen luminaries of Sir Alec's generation.
September 24, 1988 |
Janus-like, Soviet realism and Soviet progaganda showed their faces yesterday afternoon at the Academy of Music as Riccardo Muti led the Philadelphia Orchestra's first subscription concert of the season. The program, bristling with contrast, pitted the searching beauty of the Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor against Prokofiev's brilliantly cinematic Alexander Nevsky cantata for mezzo-soprano, chorus and orchestra. Viktoria Mullova was the guest soloist in the Shostakovich concerto, one of two written for the composer's friend and colleague David Oistrakh.