The pleasure of Prokofiev setting the tracks for Gran Turismo 5.
There’s a lot of hype surrounding Lang Lang’s involvement in the soundtrack for Gran Turismo 5. Sure, according to the New York Times he’s the “hottest artist on the classical music planet” and he’s been named one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People in the World”. He even reached Mozartian status when The Today Show named the phenom’s world-wide inspiration the “Lang Lang Effect”. He opened the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 Shanghai Expo. He’s performed with jazz legend Herbie Hancock at the Grammy Awards and he’s published two biographies. He’s a brand ambassador for Sony and he even has his very own trademarked Adidas shoe. The list is impressively exhausting, but let’s not forget his message — the music.
When you play GT5, you won’t see Lang Lang, but you will hear famous works by Chopin, J.S. Bach, Tchaikovsky, Joplin, Holst, and Beethoven, with the third movement “Precipitato” of Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 7, in the opening sequence of the game.
Other than being too fast, too furious, it’s unclear how or why the “Precipitato” made the final cut.
Prokofiev began working on his Piano Sonatas Nos. 6, 7, and 8 in 1939 after he was “invited” to compose a piece in celebration of Joseph Stalin’s 60th birthday — despite the recent brutal murders of his close friends by Stalin’s Secret Police. Biographer Daniel Jaffé has argued that Prokofiev “forced himself to compose a cheerful evocation of the nirvana Stalin wanted everyone to believe he had created”.
So, when he wrote his three sonatas — widely known now as the “War Sonatas” — he did not hold back and took the liberty of expressing his true feelings, resulting in some of Prokofiev’s most dissonant music for the piano.
The “Precipitato” is fierce. The sounds of war and danger are prominent. Filled with anger and frustration, thrilling and passionate, it definitely stirs excitement, but I’m not sure how much sense it makes paired with fast cars.
Maybe I have to watch my boyfriend play the game to understand?
Here is a video of Lang Lang performing the 2nd and 3rd movement of the Piano Sonata No. 7.