GABRIEL PROKOFIEV (b.1974): String Quartet No. 1 with remixes by Edwin Laliq, Boxsaga, David Schweitzer and Max De Wardener.
Catalogue Number: 10L117
Description: Gabriel Prokofiev, grandson of the composer who sprang to mind when you saw the name, has a successful career as a DJ on the British club music scene, working in genres of music of the hip hop/ trip hop type - not a field that frequently intersects with 'classical' music of any kind, apart from the odd borrowed sample here and there. Mr Prokofiev has studiedly avoided using his family name as an adjunct to his career, largely preferring to perform under a variety of pseudonyms, but a few years ago he produced this quarter-hour string quartet, which is an unassuming but thoroughly decent specimen in four movements, tonal, with some melodic components that seem to suggest broadly Slavic influences from his grandfather's time, and an emphasis on jittery, insistent repetitive rhythms that, if you didn't know about the composer's day job, you would probably ascribe to the kind of post-minimalism practiced by various British and Dutch contemporary composers. But the point of the exercise is revealed on the following five tracks of the disc, which consist of remixes of the quartet recording by Mr Prokofiev and four of his peers. It turns out that the quartet's little melodic cells and stuttering chords make perfect raw material for the sampling and looping that characterize the kind of dance music that these gentlemen specialize in. People with nothing better to do can debate as much as they like whether this kind of composition, or transcription, fantastically enhanced in recent years by the evolution of computer-based studio techniques, is as good as, as valid as, or even comparable to, the kind practiced with pen and manuscript paper. At the very least, this disc provides the curious with 'before and after' demonstrations of just how much, and how creatively, sound can be manipulated through the use of technology. With their sampled beats (apart from the Max De Wardener track, more an amorphous, pulsating haze of transformed sounds than the other beat-driven tracks) the results are definitely as 'nonclassical' as the name of Mr Prokofiev's record label suggests, but intriguing and enjoyable on their own terms. The Elysian Quartet.