Turntables with Orchestra? Prokofiev Concerti: the Next Generation

When I woke up this morning I had no idea what I was going to post about. Not much new music has been in my head lately because, for the last ten days, I have been unable to tear myself away from The Love Language album I wrote about last week. Then, this afternoon, I unexpectedly lined up an interview with Emilie Simon, a veritable musical superhero, IRCAM alum, and goddess of electronic music, who will be making her Chicago debut 15 October (if you live in the city, you owe it to yourself to be there with me). Since then, I’ve had electronic music on the brain, which is more or less what Gabriel Prokofiev’s Concerto for Turntable and Orchestra is.

Earlier today, my friend Kathryn over at Pieces of Moments asked me what I thought of the piece. At the time, I’d only read about it over at the Naxos blog (a brilliant label in its own right). It was enough to pique my interest, and her question sent me scrambling for a stream somewhere online. I found one over at bandcamp.com. It appears that the last movement is not included in the stream, but what is there is more than enough to get a feel for the piece.

Those of you are so inclined may recognize the composer’s surname and you would be right, he is, in fact, the grandson of the inimitable Sergei Prokofiev (the subject of my senior thesis in college). Well, I say “inimitable”, but listening to the opening minutes of the Concerto for Turntables and Orchestra, it is clear that the inextinguishable SP spirit still burns a couple of generations down the bloodline. If you are at all familiar with the more irreverant side of Shostakovich, I dare say you will catch glimpses of that as well, especially in the introduction “Grime Eye” and the following movement, “Irreguluv”. None of that is to say that GP is a mimic and a borrower with no original ideas (I reserve that honor for John Williams alone). The voice throughout this recording is clearly his own, constructed from a palette of early Soviet textures, trip-hop and jungle bop textures, and clubnight beats. Check out this recording from Nonclassical Records featuring DJ Yoda and the Heritage Orchestra under Jules Buckley. It also features several remixes by the composer, as well as: David Schweitzer, Medasyn, Monster Bobby, Li’ll Bo Tweak, Kat!Heath!, and others.

And while you’re at it, check out Nonclassical Records, Gabriel Prokofiev’s label which just recently launched in the States (finally!). They are a label all about bridging gaps, breaking rules, and shattering expectations. Recently, I was watching an interview with Tyondai Braxton at NewMusicBox.org. He talked about the continued dismantling of the wall between “art music” and “pop music”. I’ve been talking about it here for months (and in other places for years). I discussed it with Shara Worden. I’m going to bring it up when I talk to Emilie Simon next week. The list goes on and on and on, etc. This is the future, folks. Embrace it.


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