Monday, August 3, 2009

Sydney Symphony Orchestra presents Battleship Potemkin

Photo: Frank Strobel

Sydney Symphony Orchestra. 2009 Season. KALEIDOSCOPE PRESENTED BY St. George; BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN.

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra presented the film BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN, Directed by Sergei Eisenstein (1925). With a new score arranged by Frank Strobel from music by Shostakovitch, in an Australian premiere. It is the FILMPHILHARMONIC EDITION. Film courtesy of Stiftung Deutsche Kinematek Berlin. Music courtesy of Sikorski Musikverlage.

Sergei Eisenstein made BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN in 1925 and later ALEXANDER NEVSKY (1938) and the IVAN THE TERRIBLE, Parts One (1942, released 1945) and Two (1945, released 1958). POTEMKIN is regarded as one of the most influential cinematic films in terms of technique. It certainly still has the power of a great narrative organisation and an emotional punch of great depth. This artist worked under the restraints of the Stalinist regime. "There was no special tradition of providing dedicated scores for silent films in the young Soviet state… And so it was when BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN arrived in Berlin without a score. Eisenstein commissioned the Viennese Edmund Meisel to compose a score, and that score has recently been revived, recorded, an added to a version of the film that’s currently in circulation. The first version of probably three arrangements of Shostakovitch’s music was produced for the 5oth anniversary of the film’s release." This performance is a new arrangement made by Frank Strobel which premiered with the NDR Radio Orchestra Hannover in April, 2009. Mr Strobel is the guest conductor with the Sydney Symphony for these performances. (Last year he conducted the orchestra for the presentation of Chaplin’s GOLD RUSH). Although Eisenstein and Dimtri Shostakovitch never collaborated, both worked creatively under the pressures of Stalin in their particular fields and the music of this composer seem to be a perfect match for the accompaniment to the film.

Music from Symphony No.4 in C minor, Op.43 (1935-36); Symphony No.5 in D minor, Op.47(1937); Symphony No .8 in C minor, Op.65 (1943); Symphony No.10 in E minor, Op.93 (1953); Symphony No.11 in G minor, Op.103, THE YEAR 1905 (1957) make up the music/soundtrack of this screening. It seemed to me magnificently apt and was thrillingly exciting. The orchestra’s sound compounded the images of the Eisenstein film and left me in a highly emotional state at the conclusion. The sound impact was physically impressive and was in such synchronicity with the images that Mr Strobel needs to be congratulated on the achievement of co-ordinating the music to the visual masterpiece. POW.

This is my third Russian experience in the theatre this month. I am almost a Russo-phile in my immersion.

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