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Gabriel Prokofiev String Quartet No1 and Remixes
Elysian String Quartet
Emma Smith & Jenny May Logan: Vince Sipprell: Laura Moody

Gabriel Prokofiev String Quartet No 1

G. Prokofiev hip-hop remix (from 1st movement)
Nick Philips remix (2nd movement)
Max De Wardener Remix (3rd & 2nd movements)
David Schweitzer remix (4th movement)
Edwin Laliq remix (from 4th movement)

Composed, produced & recorded by G. Prokofiev for Nonclassical "a new record label dedicated to releasing music that is Classical but not Classical"
CD Nonclassical NCL01 CCL
[34 mins] Purchase for £7.50

A stimulating first release on a new label, which provokes thought about recomposing in the 21st Century. In the single sentence which does duty for a programme note, Gabriel Prokofiev explains that all the percussion sounds used for the remixes in this innovative CD are made from the original String Quartet recording, with the exception of the track by Ed Laliq, who "nicked some snare drums from the percussion cupboard...."

It is nothing new through the centuries for composers to recycle their material, often motivated commercially or for practical needs (reductions of orchestral scores), sometimes aesthetically when they feel there is more to be said than in the already published score. I heard this little string quartet at a Prokofiev weekend at Blackheath Halls, and remember thinking that the first movement was too brief as it stood, and that some of the fast music lost energy; it seemed to need further development, being the young composer's first attempt to write for string quartet.

Well, this has been done, in a way that is novel for me, and probably for many readers of Musical Pointers. With a little difficulty, one can work out that David, Ed, Max and Nick are colleagues who supply their own reworkings of the material; Nick responsible for the Boxsaga item.

G Prokofiev is the alter-ego of this classically trained musician, who was uneasy to use his famous father's name until persuaded to do so by the Elysian Quartet, who trained at Trinity College of Music and have latterly branched out into introducing the string quartet with very mixed programmes in unusual venues (they will be giving new quartets selected by the SPNM with Crumb's Black Angels at The Spitz on December 7).

Prokofiev's music, and the remixes too, rely heavily upon repetition to stretch the material. I found it most interesting to interpose the respective remixes between the original string quartet movements (finishing with Laliq's elaboration of the last movement as listed above). The whole then becomes a work of 34 mins; short measure for a CD!

I hope the fascination with technology won't divert Gabriel Prokofiev from completing a second string quartet promised in the interview below?

The Prokofievs - Three Generations
Blackheath Halls 11/12 October 2003
Gabriel Prokofiev* String Quartet
Elysian String Quartet

This unique family event provided a rare, concentrated overview of the chamber music of Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953), which is inclined to be overlooked in the company of his orchestral music, ballets and operas. No equivalent event has been given in UK during the Prokofiev 2003 anniversary year. - - A last word for the youngest Prokofiev, grandson Gabriel Prokofiev, whose very new String Quartet was premiered by the excellent, locally based, up-coming Elysian String Quartet. Venturing into the hallowed world of the string quartet, the burden of its masterpieces daunting to many contemporary composers, Gabriel Prokofiev came fresh and unprejudiced from working in electro-acoustics, finding a distinctive voice which (to my ears, but not consciously his) built upon some of the original brusqueness and spare textures of Stravinsky's regrettably sole foray with his three, all too brief, pieces. It was arresting music which held attention easily in this august company, despite some awkward corners and loss of energy in the faster movements; Gabriel Prokofiev and the Elysians should continue developing it towards publication and a regular place in their repertoire.

* Gabriel Prokofiev (b. 1975) has provided me with information to share with readers. In his mid-teens he put on gigs 'even at the Blackheath Concert Halls' before going up to Birmingham University, where he specialised in electroacousitc compostion & ethnomusicology, followed by Masters at York. He won a residency in Seattle at the Bourges International concours of Electroacoustic music. When working in more 'popular' style, 'I'm always looking for originality & trying to develop whatever genre I'm composing in'. Gabriel enjoyed working on his commission from the Elysian Quartet 'even though string quartet wasn't a first choice' & was inspired by the Elysian's enthusiasm to take on new sounds & approaches. 'The quartet are enjoying playing it I'm keen to start on the next piece for them.'

'This is the first time since leaving University that I've used my famous surname: Prokofiev - - maybe because I was returning to a musical world closer to Sergei Prokofiev's it felt right to use that name - also Sasha Ivashkin & the Elysian Quartet insisted that I was named as a Prokofiev for this concert ... it didn't feel strange or embarrassing so I hope that there'll be some more G. Prokofiev compostions coming soon.

© Peter Grahame Woolf