Album of the month: Gabriel Prokofiev

Eva Mackevic

Composer Gabriel Prokofiev releases an arresting double bill of bass drum and saxophone concertos 

If you have a penchant for composer Sergei Prokofiev’s dark musical whimsies laced with ominous dissonances and intriguing harmonies, just wait till you see what his grandson’s been up to. A composer in his own right, Gabriel Prokofiev’s latest project is an inspired double-bill of saxophone and bass drum concertos which turn contemporary classical music on its head.


Saxophone player Branford Marsalis 

The former is an intense piece full of character, unravelling intelligently like a dramatic play, punctuated by the sax’s unnervingly unexpected, gut-churning tonal turns which leave you both dreading and relishing the idea of what’s to come.

Its even stranger counterpart, the bass drum concerto, showcases the versatility of this much-underappreciated instrument. When given centre stage, it proves to be a thunderous, explosive force of nature that bends and subverts our pre-conceived notions of what classical music is. Playful, at times startling but consistently fresh and experimental, the piece audaciously flirts with hip hop, cleverly pairing it with the string section.

Watch out for the temperamental third movement, “Four to the Floor”, which sounds like a homage to Sergei Prokofiev’s iconic “Montagues and Capulets” from the Romeo and Juliet ballet.

 

Saxophone Concerto / Bass Drum Concerto by Gabriel Prokofiev is out now on Signum Records