My Favourite Scores – 1934

  • Lieutenant Kijé
  • Sergei Prokofiev
  • Vox Box / 1990 / 20:27

From what I have seen of the film, Lieutenant Kijé is bizarre. Full of extremely exaggerated acting, I had hoped to watch the film in order to see how Prokofiev’s original music fits. But the film is so bizarre and the copy I saw (streaming on Google Video) is so bad that I gave up pretty quickly. So the suite version (premiered in 1937) will need to do for the time being. I believe the actual score isn’t available on CD and most people will have heard the symphonic suite that the composer put together that is based on the score.

It’s difficult to look beyond the popular “Troika” when this score (and suite) is mentioned – the fourth movement of the suite, “Troika”, is frequently used in films and documentaries and usually features on “best of” classical music compilations. Most of the suite has been used in film, documentaries and popular music.

The familiar melodies heard in movements 2-4 (“Romance”, “Kijé’s Wedding” and “Troika”) appear throughout the suite and it is this familiarity that means Prokofiev’s piece is chosen for this year.

I have the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra/Slatkin version and I remember being really surprised to hear the vocal (baritone) having always heard the non-vocal version (and more popular) version. The suite does exist in two different versions, one using a baritone voice and the other using a saxophone.

Very Russian in tone (obviously) the suite is a worthy listen – if you have not heard it already. I would be interested to hear a re-recording of the original score, but the film is so weird that I wonder how the score would sound.


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