THE FIERY ANGEL


The Fiery Angel, an arrangement of the infamous occult opera by Sergei Prokofiev. The original five acts were arranged by Maya Fridman and Artem Belogurov to four chapters. The instruments for which this arrangement was made are an almost two century old cello and an Erard grand piano from 1880, which was previously played on by composers Diepenbrock and Mahler. This way, you hear the music the way it was intended in Prokofiev’s time.

In 1907, Russian writer Valery Bryusov published the novel The Fiery Angel. An exciting tale of an impossible love triangle between Renata, a passionate young woman, Ruprecht the knight, and Madiël, The Fiery Angel.

The Ukraine-born composer Sergei Prokofiev created an opera in five acts based on this novel, and completed the first version in 1923. However, the first complete performance took place in 1954, a year after his death.

The story of The Fiery Angel is symbolical and at the same time as real as any other creation born in the Silver Age. The way I understand it deeply affected my work on the arrangement. I do not attempt to explain or rationalize my adoration for both Bryusov’s and Prokofiev’s masterpieces here. My aim is to tell you about my relationship with The Fiery Angel and where it brought me. While the last saying may sound presumptuous, the only important thing for me is the music itself which obsessed me which its utmost beauty, madness and love.

The idea of this work came to me in December 2014. A few months before that, I started to play with Artem Belogurov. His genius and charisma prompted me look for a piece which could develop into an exciting and mystic adventure. I knew what I wanted to  nd: the depth embracing the light and the dark, a story that could transcend time and language, music itself. Going back to December I was sharing my ideas with my mother, when she spontaneously suggested to arrange Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel. The prospective of working on this piece thrilled me and at the same time seemed impossible.

While working on the first movement, it still felt as an impossible task. Like watching life forming in smoke with its own laws and rules to which I had to obey. I felt prisoned in Renata’s delirium and lacked clarity. Just as her idea of an Angel was crystallizing in her mind, the music became tangible by itself. It triggered me and I could not stop working until the chapters were finished. Often, I had the impression that as in Renata’s case, the radiant image of the Angel was fleeting from my hands. Just like her story this music is a paradox, the essence of which is the union of ecstasy and suffering. Her burning was an act of symbolic death in which she united with the Angel, through the ecstatic destruction of self. This music requires dissolution to exist and faith to surrender. It is the celebration of the Symbolists idea that the material reality is nothing but a distorted echo of another realm. - from: liner notes by Maya Fridman