Prokofiev 8th Piano Sonata op 84 - 3rd Mvt - Isaac Barry




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Published on Jun 21, 2013

Prokofiev 8th Piano Sonata op 84, 3rd Mvt

3. Vivace

Isaac Barry - Piano
Recorded on 16th February 2013

Prokofiev's "War Sonatas" - as they are known: his 6th, 7th and 8th Sonatas for Piano - were all begun in 1939 - they were completed in 1941,1942 and 1944 respectively. The 8th Sonata was premiered by a young Emil Gilels at the Moscow Conservatory in December 1944.
The 8th Sonata has all the qualities that typify these great large scale works: forceful and brutal use of harmony and rhythm together with quite visceral climaxes - a portrayal and response to war around him. Where the 8th Sonata departs slightly from the other 2 Sonatas is the way it begins lyrically with an extended slow section - the 1st movement is in 4 clear sections of slow/fast/slow/fast. There's no complacency here though - there might be a lull in the storm but the feeling of foreboding is always palpable. All the main themes and motives that dominate this movement are stated in this opening section. In fact towards the end of the 1st slow section in the 1st movement, over a discordant dronelike bass chord, Prokofiev introduces a theme which seems almost like a musical premonition or forewarning which also appears in the climax of the development in the 1st fast section, at the end of the 2nd slow section, and finally it appears, ghostlike, after a battle in the middle section of the last movement. This slow music is followed by an Allegro that becomes the development of the !st movement . After an extraordinary climax the music dies away and via some distant tolling of bells we have a return of the Andante slightly shorter and then a return of the Allegro, again shorter, that brings the movement to a screaming pitch, only to fade away to a high B flat chord at the end.

The second movement is remarkable for its "scene by the fireplace" manner - you can almost smell the borscht cooking in the background - all is for the moment well with the World. There are no surprises or explosions. Probably because of the all the slow music that has gone before, it is the shortest movement of the Sonata and is a welcome calming foil to the rigours of the outer movements.
The third movement is an ultimately a triumphal tarantella but there is a battle still to be fought along the way. This comes by way of the middle section Allegro ben marcato. It starts soberly enough - a march in triple time but things soon get out of hand: the music becomes more violent, the harmonies more discordant. You can hear the mortar bomb explosions and bullets whistling past. Then it suddenly turns a corner and all that thumping explosiveness is in the distance. It is at this point that the "musical premonition" from the 1st movement makes a final ghostlike appearance - the phoenix rising from the ashes...? Maybe that was the premonition? Gradually the music finds its way back to the tarantella and it's homeward bound. As with all Prokofiev's War sonatas, the final pages are a tour de force of pianistic writing!


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