Sergey Prokofiev (1891-1953): Five Poems of Anna Akhmatova, Op. 27
In late 1916 Prokofiev wanted to relax from the exhausting pace of composing, so he decided to set some poems by contemporary poets to music. At the time the words of Anna Akhmatova were expressing the feeling of morbidity of Russian society and she was a promising young hopeful of Russian poetry. So, he selected 5 of Anna Akhmatova’s poems which he set to music in just 4 days. These pieces were presented with Prokofiev himself accompanying on the piano, causing quite a stir. Even he admitted that “after these songs, many will believe that this is the first time I have written lyrical music”. These 5 poems set to music will be performed by internationally renowned soprano Katya Scherbachenko, accompanied on the piano by the talented Jacob Katsnelson, pianist and professor at the Moscow Conservatory. The next piece will be ‘Light Sorrow’ by Russian electronic music composer Dmitriy Mazurov, based on the English version of a poem by Dimitris Gialamas. This piece was created exclusively for the 55th Dimitria Festival and will be presented as a world premiere performance.
was born in Ryazan, Russia, where she received her primary musical education. In music school, she at first studied violin, but completed her early music education in the department of choral conducting. Thereafter, Ekaterina studied vocal technique at The Moscow Conservatory under the tutelage of Prof. M.S. Alexeyeva. During her fifth year of conservatory studies, she made her first foreign professional debut with the Opéra de Lyon in France.
In 2005, Ekaterina completed her formal studies and joined the Stanislavsky Moscow Music Theatre, where she performed roles including Lidochka in Shostakovich’s ‘Moscow, Cheryomushki’ and Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Così fan Tutte. One year later, she was invited to perform as Natasha Rostova in a première performance of Prokofiev’s War and Peace at the Bolshoi Theatre. This engagement proved fortuitous, as Ekaterina was invited to join the Bolshoi’s troupe. In addition, she was nominated for the prestigious ‘Golden Mask’ theatrical award.
In 2005 – 2006, Ms. Scherbachenko competed in leading voice competitions in Shizuoka (Japan) and Barcelona; and her career as a Bolshoi soloist began with the famous role of Tatiana in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. She has subsequently performed this role in many of the world’s leading opera houses, including: La Scala, Covent Garden, l’Opéra Nationale de Paris, and The Teatro Real in Madrid. More recently, she performed Tatiana in a production at the 2014 Glyndebourne Festival.
Ekaterina’s other major roles include: Liù in Turandot; Mimi in La Bohème; Micaëlla in Carmen; Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni; La Contessa from Le Nozze di Figaro; the eponymous role in Dvořàk’s Rusalka; and Gorislava from Glinka’s Ruslan and Lyudmila.
In 2009, Ms. Scherbachenko took first place in the prestigious ‘BBC Singer of the World’ Competition in Cardiff, becoming the first Russian to have achieved this award in two decades. This victory led to an agency relationship with IMG Artists and to further invitations from the world’s leading opera houses, including: La Scala; the Bayerische Staatsoper; the Metropolitan Opera; the Zürich Opera House; The Teatro Real in Madrid, and others.
In 2015, Ekaterina performed the lead role in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanthe at the Festival d’Aix en Provence and with the Dallas Opera (USA). In the same year, she was also awarded the International Maria Callas Grand Prix for Début Artist of the Year.
Ekaterina has performed under the baton of many of today’s leading conductors and directors, including: Valery Gergiev; Zubin Mehta; Teodor Currentzis; Nello Santi; Riccardo Frizza and others. Ms. Shcherbachenko’s concert repertoire includes: performances of art songs and lieder by Russian and international composers; Mozart’s Requiem; Britten’s War Requiem; Rachmaninov’s ‘The Bells’ Cantata; Mozart’s Great Mass in C-Minor; and Janàček’s Glagolitic Mass.
In 2017, Ekaterina has participated in the world première performance of a stage version of Britten’s War Requiemto take place at the Opéra de Lyon.
In 2018 she sung the role of Vitellia in La Clemenza di Tito by Mozart in National theatre in Amsterdam.
In 2019 Ekaterina took part in Le Nozze di Figaro as La Contessa in Wiener Konzerthaus and Lucerne Festival with maestro Currentzis and continue her singing in the Bolshoi theatre of Moscow.
Born 1976 in Moscow, Jacob Katsnelson displayed exceptional musical talent at a very early age, entering the Music School for Gifted Children of the famed Gnessin Institute at five in 1981. Choosing to specialize in flute and piano he obtained diplomas with “highest distinction” in both instruments in 1993; and thereafter continued studies in the master class of the renowned pianist Elisso Virsaladze at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow.
In 1992 he obtained a distinction in the Russian Competition for Young Musicians as well as in the 10th International Competition J. S. Bach in Leipzig (1996). In 1999 he was finalist at the Concours Musical International Reine Elisabeth de Belgique in Brussels; and in 2000 semifinalist at the Concours Géza Anda in Zurich. In 2001 he was a laureate of the International Piano Competition in Tbilisi (Georgia) where he also received the Special Prize for the Best Interpretation of a Work by Beethoven. In 2003 he was one of three finalists at the Concours International de Piano Clara Haskil in Vevey (Switzerland) and in 2005 obtained second prize at the First International Piano Competition Sviatoslav Richter in Moscow.
He also formed the piano trio Akadem which won first prize at the 1999 Taneyev Chamber Music Competition in Kaluga (Russia) and in 2000, second prize at the International Chamber Music Competition in Trapani (Sicily).
He has performed recitals and chamber music concerts in Russia (e.g. each year at the ”Homecoming Festival” in Moscow), Germany, Belgium, Holland (Kamermuziek Festival Utrecht with Janine Jansen, Boris Brovtsyn, Maxim Rysanov, Misha Maisky, etc.), France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, USA, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Estonia (Festival Hiiumaa), Latvia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Bosnia, Israel… He has also appeared as soloist with well known orchestras such as the Philharmonic Orchestra of Saratov in Moscow, and those of Nizhny Novgorod, Saint-Petersburg, Brussels, Switzerland, Georgia, Chisinau/Moldavia, Baku/Azerbaijan, Rhodes.
Besides many life records in the concert halls of Tchaikovsky Conservatory Jacob Katsnelson produced a CD with Kristine Blaumane, cello, featuring compositions of S. Barber, E. Grieg and B. Martinu; another one with the violist Maxim Rysanov playing Brahms. His CD with solo works of J. S. Bach appeared recently under the label Quartz (QTZ 2084).
Jacob Katsnelson is professor at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow and teaches lieder interpretation at the Gnessin Institute in Moscow.