Prokofiev « War » Sonata #7 Valentina Lisitsa Precipitato 3rd Mov. Finale [ValentinaLisitsa]


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Tell me which art is uniquely devoid of violence? Not cinema of course. Not theatre. Not books. Not even paintings. Yes, classical music is generally a violence-free zone. Yes, there is a dose of violent passions and "drama" in opera -- but opera is a hybrid between music and theater -- and ballet more than compensates for it.
But, there are exceptions. You are about to hear one of the biggest ones.
I must admit I do not feel good when I finish this sonata to a burst of thunderous applause. People can be forgiven though , forgiven for getting under the influence of incredible energy and power of this 3 minute piece. The same way as we feel good in movies when OUR GOOD guys kill off all those BAD guys , right?
Amazing how this piece is misread by music critics , from NYT one describing it as a ""an explosive burst of rock 'n' roll with a chromatic edge" , or a Russian one, praising its "мужественное жизнеутверждение и любовь ко всему живому" translating into "courageous affirmation of life and love for all living things". LOVE OF ALL LIVING THINGS, oh really?
One distressful thing that distinguishes us , human creatures, from animals is unfortunately HATRED and need for revenge , need to shed someone's blood to avenge our wrongs. Look at many videos of animals on National Geographic or whatever channel, they love to show those videos of predators capturing and killing animals , mostly young or sick of course. Have you ever seen an animal mother after losing her baby turn to revenge and plan to kill the lion? A herd of deer trapping and stampeding pesky wolves, rabbit mamas planning to torture foxes, mice poisoning baby kittens ? No, they grieve for a bit and go on to make more babies, thoughtless animals they are.
Humans on the other hand , sometimes feast on their own grief and dream of nothing less than causing extreme pain to their real or perceived oppressors. You kill our babies -- we parade the little corpses on TV and then we kill your babies and you can show them off on TV too. Blood lust that blinds and destroys people, because the revenge becomes their only aim in life and they think they will live happily ever after --after they finish the slaughter. As Shakespeare succinctly put it " A plague o' both your houses".
This movement , when premiered, was aptly christened " Tank Attack". The time it was written explains it. 1942. The midst of war, countless dead, wounded, missing. Immense suffering of people in hands of occupiers. The tide of war was not yet turning , Stalingrad battle had just began and German army was in full offence mode rolling forward. Stalingrad ,that sleepy provincial Southern town that was cursed with bearing Stalin's name and thus made into the last stand -- was being destroyed to the last brick in street battles. Two million would perish in short few month right at that spot. Nothing could lift the defenders' spirits more than a piece of music that showed the path to victory , a tank attack , unstoppable. A prophesy of sorts.
What can better depict the most brutal revenge than a tank, a fearsome brutal killing machine -- where the operators are hidden inside and never have to face his victims. You get killed not by human but by a machine. There is no eye contact. You can't plead mercy or outsmart the machine, be it a tank, a bomber that is high above the clouds carrying deathly cargo or a drone operated by some kid 1000s miles away as it is some kind of a video game. It is the scariest thing that this death is impersonal. And that's why it gives us chills and makes our hearts pounding -- this awesome, this incredible, brilliant ,un-stoppable in its energy, brutal , brutalizing Finale movement. Face it -- what you feel is not enthusiasm at the irrelevant display of virtuosity. No, not at all.....

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