after everyone remembered to re-commence breathing during intermission, carlos [“what’s with his hair – isn’t it less crazy now? is he wearing a head band? i’m not sure, i can’t really see from here…”] and a seriously beefed-up orchestra closed the show with prokofiev’s fifth symphony. yes, back-to-back ruskie composers, but that’s about where the similarities end. pete’s music appeals to my heart, while sergei aims for my head – prokofiev is a boxer, not a ballerina. checking out a recording of this symphony at home, it took me several listens to start digging it, truth be told… its stern and serious demeanor is not necessarily inviting. the first movement introduces a difficult melody that with each return threatens to teeter off balance into a dissonant freefall. (dear god, i can’t believe i am now using the word “movement” with such frequency and ernestness i don’t even snigger anymore.) ahem. the second movement whips out this quick staccato throbbing pulse beat reminding me of some kickass psycho/film noir movie. slow and sometimes difficult to keep track of, the penultimate movement pops the work into low gear, complete with little blurry philip glass seedlings just starting to show their faces. the 9-minute finale offers up another unusual melody that’s about as easy to latch onto as a greased pig. suddenly, a staccato beat emerges and instantly transforms the piece into a galloping danny elfman film score (cue image of a skateboarding bart simpson latched onto the batmobile bumper, riding off into the st. petersburg sunset).
btw, kudos to maestro carlos for choosing this piece of music as the endcap, as opposed to the classic-case-send-em-out-happy-and-humming tchaikovsky. it seems to ask a lot of questions that draw the listener back to the symphony. and back. and back.