A Conversation for Sergei Prokofiev

Prokofiev

Post 1

Walter of Colne


Gee, I sat through Prokofiev's third piano concerto last evening, and now have a clearer understanding of why few people are interested in chatting about him.

Walter.


Prokofiev

Post 2

doppeloop

Prokofiev can't touch those who refuse to listen


Prokofiev

Post 3

Walter of Colne

Gooday Doppeloop,

I promise you that I listened as best I could, but I don't think Prokofiev was trying hard enought to touch me. But I'll forgive him pretty well anything for Peter and the Wolf.

Walter.


Prokofiev

Post 4

J'au-æmne

oh gee, I wish this would get itself off of the front page...smiley - winkeye

Its funny 'cuz I really like his third piano concerto. Apparently its his most popular... but then I studied it, with a score and everything, first, rather than just listening to it.

My music teacher's advice was when faced with a piece of music you don't like, listen to it again.


Prokofiev

Post 5

Walter of Colne


Gooday Joanna,

I have to confess: the main reason I posted the message was because it didn't seem right that a classical composer should be languishing on the 'most unloved' category. But I did sit throught the third, and I played it again at home to see if my view had altered. It hadn't. Then again, if like me you are hooked on Mozart's and Beethoven's piano concertos, anything else is going to be doing it tough to measure up. But I will take you advice and listen to it again later in the week.

PS Do you think we have enough postings now to remove Sergei from the front page?

Walter.


Prokofiev

Post 6

J'au-æmne

I'm not so hot on piano concertos generally, its not a genre that I've ever paid all that much attention to... *she says, shamefacedly* Give it a chance, I guess. Its a wee bit american coming from a Russian composer, I think of the first and last movements as quite glittery. The second movement's theme is a bit more characterisitcally Russian, I guess. But I just find the whole piece exciting... I think that the beginning of the first movement would make a marvellous film score...

More analysis of the first movement available on request, not that I think you'll want any... smiley - smiley

I wish it would get itself off of the front page- I've had lots of entries go through with 1 or 2 or no comments on them, but this one...
apparently they do it on page views. But its been 'neglected' almost consistantly since its approval, I can't believe that its *still* not viewed enough...


Prokofiev

Post 7

Walter of Colne


Gooday Joanna,

Thank you for the tips and listening advice; I will persevere with an open-ish mind. Now you mention it, I can see what you mean - there is some 'Americano' in the piece, but then I think there is an American presence in the music of several of the later Russians. The first movement a film score? What sort of film? I would love to score a film with the slow movements from Beethoven's 3rd, 4th or 5th piano concertos, or Mozart's last half dozen, but the films would I think have to be incredibly sublime or filled with the most profound pathos. But no slow motion or wistful close-ups, please.

Yes, please, if you can find time I would love to hear some more of your analysis of the first movement.

Do you reckon we have managed to move Sergei yet? Take care,

Walter.


Prokofiev

Post 8

Walter of Colne


Hey Joanna,

WE HAVE DONE IT!! Sergei Prokofiev is off the most neglected page! Should we still go on meeting like this anyway?

Walter.


Prokofiev

Post 9

J'au-æmne

The first movement isn't a film score, but I think that the beginning of it would make a good one... I dunno, if I were a director I'd find a way to use it...smiley - bigeyes

I'm pleased to hear that one of my favourite composers has made it off the list....smiley - smiley I studied the piece at a-level. I shall endeavour to point out examples of Prokofiev's five lines in it....
I think, though, its a little harsh to compare him with Beethoven and Mozart- although he did go in for some neoclasicism this concerto is firmly rooted in the 20th century, and in his style... have you heard his Classical Symphony (no 1 in D)? its quite fun...


Prokofiev

Post 10

doppeloop

I like that statement.. I agree totally ... Music is kinda like an infection... Even at first if you feel nothing at all, (maybe even resentment) eventually, if given enough time alone with it, it will seduce you.


Prokofiev

Post 11

J'au-æmne

I agree... its worked on me, over the Right of Spring, especially, the first time I heard it I was like, What?? this is *music*?? But now I really like it, and some parts I really love.....


Prokofiev

Post 12

J'au-æmne

I apologise if this is too technical, too rambly, or too boring smiley - smiley I always think of this as a night time piece... listen when its dark outside.smiley - smiley

Okay, the movement is kind of in sonata form (exposition, development, recapitulation- like Mozart and Beethoven would have written). Well, it begins in sonata form style, but then it kinds of fades away... I think it breaks the sonata form 'rules' rather than bends them.

There are four themes to the movement- the first (I'll call it theme 1) is the solo clarinet entry right at the beginning. This is a prime example of Prokofiev's lyrical line... The motif made by the first three notes is probably the most important bit... This is amplified by the strings and flute, leading into... Theme 2- the energetic, ascending theme that comes in on the lower strings, moving to the upper strings. Toccata line this time, very busy...
This builds up to the piano entry with theme 3. The beginning of this theme has 1's three-note motif backwards, and is like Peter's theme on the string quartet in Peter and the wolf- it changes key mid way, to something completely unrelated. Modernist line for that smiley - smiley I think that's a good twist, IMO only though...
The fourth theme is after a whole bunch of energetic development in the piano and entire orchestra- the oboe solo directly after the piano has the unaccompanied block chords... this is Russian sounding, I think. You could also probably call it grotesque line stuff... it has the awkward intervals...
...Skipping now to the middle of the movement, probably my favourite part- when the piano, bassoon and clarinet have theme 1 in canon with each other... its so calm. And I think this is an 'Americana' bit too, its kind of wistful, but sort of glittery at the same time... (My music teacher would lampoon me at this point for using those adjectives. However, this isn't an exam!)

I like the way that theme 2 while not being an end it itself is used to build up the tension, leading (chronologically) to theme four, 'harmonised' in 7ths... grotesque line again, for sure...smiley - smiley I think its fun, while it may not be harmonic...

I can see that this concerto may come across as a little chilly. But I think of it as a night time piece, to me it conjures up the idea of ice skaters, out in the park on a cold evening... having a marvellous time. But then again I'm probably being way, way too romantic... *shrugs* I like it anyway.


Prokofiev

Post 13

Walter of Colne


Joanna,

May Day .... May Day .... May Day.

Sergie is BACK on the 'most neglected' list! Can we demand an editorial enquiry and explanation?

Thank you very much for the trouble you went to. I am going to read your notes at home tonight while listening to P's 3rd and hope that they will bring a new insight into my appreciation of this piece.

Walter


Prokofiev

Post 14

J'au-æmne

I hope it helps. smiley - smiley Tell me how you get on- I'll probably be able to forgive you if you still don't like it...smiley - winkeye

I just can't believe that Prokofiev still manages to be unpopular.... I think I'm going to have to go on a campaign to get people to read it...


Prokofiev

Post 15

J'au-æmne

I hope it helps. smiley - smiley Tell me how you get on- I'll probably be able to forgive you if you still don't like it...smiley - winkeye

I just can't believe that Prokofiev still manages to be unpopular.... I think I'm going to have to go on a campaign to get people to read it...


Prokofiev

Post 16

Walter of Colne


Hi Joanna,

Confession: I didn't get to listen to Sergei last evening, I was just too tired. So I will do it over the weekend, when justice can be done to both me and the music. And sure, you can forgive me just about anything - I'm that sort of person. Take care,

Walter.


Prokofiev

Post 17

J'au-æmne

smiley - smiley lol I'm sure I can...


Prokofiev

Post 18

Walter of Colne

Hi Joanna,

Have now listened to P's third quite a few times times, and also to his other four piano concertos, just for clues and contrasts.

I understand that P wrote the concertos primarily with himself in mind as the soloist, and in that context some of the glitzy brilliance is explicable. But the third is a quirky mixture of lyrical melodies, motoric rhythms and harmonic originality. It occurred to me also that while P was in the vanguard of modernism, he was quite unable to relinquish the classical forms. I changed my mind several times over whether P was trying to tell me something or lead me anywhere. At last check my view was that ultimately this was a bit of an indulgence, essentially directionless. Interesting that the third was first performed in Chicago in 1921, a couple of years after P had quit Revolutionary Russia. It may be a flight of my fancy, but I think the music frequently reflects that. In that sense, I can relate to your description of chilly, and occasionally grotesque, but to me it comes across more as brittle, uncertain.

How ironic that P and his persecutor and tormentor in later years, Josef Stalin, died on the same day.

Thank you for you time and help. I don't know that I care for the piece any more than when we started, but I have learned a bit on the way so that is a plus. Take care,

Walter


Prokofiev

Post 19

Xedni Deknil

Just adding my support to the 'get Prokofiev (back) off the front page' campaign! I can't remember if I've heard the Third Piano Concerto, but I'll certainly go hunt it down now.


Prokofiev

Post 20

J'au-æmne

Thanks smiley - smiley I really can't think what to do to get him off of the list....


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