Prokofieff’s second ballet, Chout, was a great success for Diaghilev’s company, with its simple sequences of dances and comical adventures in the style of an old-fashioned children’s story book. It is scored in a bright and accessible style and overflows with easy-going echoes of Russian folk-tunes. The story-line is based on traditional folk-stories about a clever Jester and his wife who make themselves rich by outwitting everyone they meet, including seven other jesters and a rich and stupid merchant.
Making the suite, Prokofieff made no attempt to follow the complicated plot, but instead cut and reordered the score to make a delightful sequence of contrasted dance-numbers to be enjoyed for their purely musical pleasures. This is music by Prokofieff the entertainer, though with plenty of sarcasm and teasing to keep the audience on their toes.
Note by Gerard McBurney