Seattle Symphony

Trying to keep track of whether Stalin considered Hitler an ally or an enemy, in the days leading up to World War II, was not only difficult but potentially fatal. That’s the rock against which Sergei Eisenstein’s 1938 film Alexander Nevsky ran aground. Its recreation of the heroic 13th-century defense of Novgorod against Teuton invaders was heartily encouraged by the authorities, until, d’oh!, Joe and Adolf signed a non-aggression pact. Then suddenly it wasn’t. (When Germany broke the pact in 1941 and invaded the U.S.S.R, the film became politically correct, and showable, again.) Sergei Prokofiev, in composing the film’s music, worked closely with Eisenstein, and the result was one of his most gripping and explosive scores. His hurtling music for Eisenstein’s “Battle on the Ice” sequence has become a action-film-score archetype, just as the sequence itself has become for subsequent cinematic battle scenes. (He later salvaged 45 minutes or so of his original movie score, turning it into a concert work, and Gerard Schwarz’s performance with the Seattle Symphony of this cantata some years back still rings in my head.) This week for SIFF, Xian Zhang conducts the whole score in this live SSO performance accompanying the film. Benaroya Hall, Third Avenue and Union Street, 215-4747, www.seattlesymphony.org and www.siff.net. $17–$105. 7:30 p.m. (Also: 7 p.m. Fri., June 13; 8 p.m. Sat., June 14; 2 p.m. Sun., June 15.) GAVIN BORCHERT

Thu., June 12, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., June 13, 7 p.m.; Sat., June 14, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 15, 2 p.m., 2008

 
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