Lost Motherland -
Prokofiev's Soviet Diary of 1927 In 1927, Prokofiev went back to the Soviet Union for the first time in almost ten years, and in 1936, he settled there again, bringing with him his wife and sons. The years up until his death in 1953 experienced both professional and personal problems which finally turned the composer in upon himself. Prokofiev's musical genius and his human failings are both revealed in this striking account of his return to Russia and its tragic consequences. Oliver Becker takes as his starting point a diary, only discovered in 1989, which Prokofiev kept during his trip to Russia in 1927. Contributors include, among others, Aram Khachaturian's son Karen; Tichon Chrenikov, who dominated Soviet cultural bureaucracy for decades and who is still living in Moscow; as well as Prokofiev's son, Sviatoslav. Music performances feature Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, Valery Gergiev, Alexander Melnikov, Vadim Repin and, in earlier years, Van Cliburn, Yevgeny Svetlanov and David Oistrakh. Prokofiev himself is seen, at the end of his life, playing the waltz from Cinderella. Directed by Oliver Becker - 58'
Thomas Quasthoff Bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff is one of the world's leading lieder and oratorio singers. A victim of Thalidomide, he does not take on operatic roles. Much of this programme is devoted to footage of Quasthoff in rehearsal and performance. He is seen meticulously preparing for a recording of Schubert songs; working with composer Aribert Reimann on a particularly difficult piece, written specially for him; and singing music by Bach, Brahms, Mahler and Loewe. Thoughtful, intelligent and charming, Quasthoff also talks about his life, his career and his plans for the future. Directed by Barrie Gavin - 59'
Alexander Scriabin – Towards the Light This documentary on the unconventional life and ground-breaking music of the Russian pianist and composer Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915) sheds light on the mystical ideas which inspired him. He became consumed by a vision of a union of the arts, a coalescence of music, words, movement, light, colour and ideas, to create transcendent experiences. Contributors to his fascinating exploration of the composer's life and work are musicians Vladimir Ashkenazy and Vladimir Horowitz; conductor Mikhail Pletnev; and Scriabin's daughter, Marina. The programme draws on Scriabin's writings, archive photographs and documentation, and footage shot in Switzerland, Italy and Moscow. Among a wealth of musical extracts, Scriabin himself is heard playing his Poem Op.32 No.1, recorded in 1908 on a Welte Mignon player-piano. Directed by Oliver Becker – 60'
Rodion Shchedrin - Concerto Cantabile Contemporary Russian composer Rodion Shchedrin is regarded as one of the principal successors of Prokofiev and Shostakovich. This programme focuses on his Concerto Cantabile for violin and string orchestra which Shchedrin wrote for the brilliant young Siberian virtuoso Maxim Vengerov. There is film of the first performance of the piece featuring the Tonhalle Orchestra conducted by Mariss Jansons. Also included are an excerpt from Shchedrin's Piano Concerto No. 4 with Olli Mustonen as soloist, and extracts from a concert of his chamber music with performances from the composer himself and Frans Helmerson. Shchedrin is again seen at the grand piano playing his Homage to Chopin with Chick Corea, Paul Gulda and the late Nicolas Economou. As well as interviews with Shchedrin, there are contributions from his wife, Prima Ballerina Assoluta Maya Plissetskaya, Lorin Maazel and Mischa Maisky. Directed by Georges Gachot - 48' – 16:9 Widescreen