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Prokofiev plays Prokofiev Visions Fugitives

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Uploaded on Jul 8, 2011

Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev (1891-1953):
9 Pieces from Visions Fugitives (1917), recorded in 1935.
The title is French for "Fleeting/Fugitive Visions" which is taken from the following line of poetry by Konstantin Balmont:
"In every fugitive vision I see worlds, full of the changing play of rainbow hues..."

Prokofiev plays this selection:
1. No. 9: Allegro Tranquillo
2. No. 3: Allegretto
3. No. 17: Poetico
4. No. 18: Con una dolce lentezza
5. No. 11: Con vivacità
6. No. 10: Ridicolosamente
7. No. 16: Dolente
8. No. 6: Con eleganza
9. No. 5: Molto giocoso

"Though Prokofiev is rightly remembered as a composer rather than as pianist, he was in many respects an ideal interpreter of his music. He played with more finesse - and less brute force - than many of his modern interpreters. This means Prokofiev's records lack the element of sheer adrenalin that, for instance, William Kapell brought to the 3rd Concerto; but they're nevertheless exciting, clear and intelligent - without ever seeming cerebral or systematic. He makes the Visions Fugitives sound as ephemeral as their name implies.(...) Prokofiev's melodic accents usually fall on strong beats, and frequently on long notes. Surprisingly, he accents few syncopated notes, making them even more striking when they occur. His accents are virtually always dynamic, and only occasionally agogic. It's an architectural approach aiming at a clear rhythmic structure. Prokofiev wanted the listener to feel the downbeat.(...) Poulenc likened Prokofiev's playing to "the steady unwinding of a precision clockwork motor spring" and said that Prokofiev performed his own music "very straightforwardly...Rubato made his flesh creep." (Quoted in Horowitz, The Ivory Trade, p. 97.) But we must read Poulenc's statement in the context of a time when the sense of pulse was much more supple. Compared to Paderewski, Prokofiev's playing is indeed straight; compared to most modern performances of his music, it contains a wealth of rhythmic inflections. Some of these inflections fall under the category of style, such as the rushed eighth notes in Visions Fugitives, #6. These upbeats are shortened to give added emphasis to the following downbeats. Prokofiev generally rushes short groups of notes that form upbeats, arriving at the downbeat slightly early. Examples include Visions Fugitives no. 5, 10, and 11." (Mark Arnest)

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