The UNLTD Collective is made up of dynamic and forward-thinking alumni of the Verbier Festival Academy who develop and present innovative original projects.
Taking a cue from Beethoven, who was inspired by the Viennese countryside to compose his Pastoral Symphony, Gabriel Prokofiev recorded sounds of nature in the Swiss alps as a starting point for a suitable response to this iconic work. He asked himself what nature meant to Beethoven and what kind of Pastoral work can composers write today given the challenges we face on our planet? The resulting work, Pastoral Reflections, commissioned by UNLTD, became the foundation for an hour-long sound and music project called Pastoral 21 that juxtaposed Beethoven’s symphony, in an arrangement for string sextet by M. G. Fischer, with Gabriel’s Breaking Screens project—an exploration of consumerism, digital life and impending crisis.
Pastoral 21 was premiered at the 2021 Verbier Festival by Gabriel Prokofiev and the UNLTD Collective. The project was performed in Glasgow during the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) and throughout Switzerland the following spring to coincide with Earth Day celebrations. This recording of Pastoral 21 was made following the project’s premiere in London in October 2022. It was released on 2 February 2023 to a four-star review from The Times London.
“Considering the natural world’s present state, I expected more anger from Prokofiev’s music. But ruefulness can be telling too, especially when conveyed via the excellent string playing of the UNLTD Collective.” — Geoff Brown, The Times
Photos © François Vasseur | From top left to bottom right : Gabriel Prokofiev; Songha Choi, Alfredo Ferre; Çiğdem Tuncelli, Songha Choi; Kinga Wojdalska, Martin Moriarty; Antonin Musset, Songha Choi; Songha Choi; Kinga Wojdalska; Alfredo Ferre; Martin Moriarty
“Today, the concept of ‘pastoral’ is bittersweet. We can still experience the beauty of nature, but the traces of humanity and industry are always present, and the spectre of the ever-increasing climate crisis is looming.” — Gabriel Prokofiev