September 2, 2010

Prokofiev Piano Sonata No. 4, 2nd movement

Excerpt from Jonathan Summers' liner notes for the Naxos recording of Prokofiev's piano performances:

In 1935 whilst in Paris Prokofiev was persuaded (probably by [conductor Piero] Coppola) to record some of his solo works for French HMV. He probably had a group of his own works that he specifically chose to play before the public, as he selected the Andante from the Fourth Sonata as well as some Gavottes, the popular Suggestion Diabolique Op.4, excerpts from Visions Fugitives and two new works from Op.59 which he had just written. The Etude from Op.52 had been written a few years before and is an adaptation of music from his ballet The Prodigal Son.

Four sessions were needed to complete the recordings - the 12th, 25th and 26th February and the 4th March 1935. The Andante from the Fourth Sonata was recorded at the last session in one take along with a fourth take of Op.31 & Op.25 which, in the end proved unnecessary as take 3 was published. Not surprisingly, the Etude Op.52 required the most takes, six in all, with take four being selected for release.

posted by sstrader at 8:41 AM in Music | permalink | comments (0)

August 27, 2010

Prokofiev Piano Sonata No. 4, 2nd movement

The first appearance of the B material, starting at measure 33 and going through 53. Pages four and five below:

prokofiev.sonata-4.ii.4.small.png prokofiev.sonata-4.ii.5.small.png

I've been referencing Boris Berman's book Prokofiev's Piano Sonatas for performance and analysis tips. He points out that this movement was a favorite of Prokofiev's and Berman draws his performance advice from both an orchestrated version the Prokofiev made (alas, unavailable at IMSLP) and a recording that Prokofiev made in 1935. I recently purchased a CD of all of Prokofiev's piano recordings (along with another CD with those of Debussy), but I've avoided listening to this movement in order to get it in my head better. Though, admittedly, the Nissman recording already dominates my ear.

The B material, ignoring the 6-measure bridge, consists of two 3-measure phrases, repeated and connected by one measure that mimics the last measure of the bridge. (3+3)+1+(3+3). The repeat is a slight variation on the first. The repetition/variation of the 3-measure phrase reminds me of that of the melody in the A section. Technically, this was much easier and is close to performance level now, so much of this week was also spent with the considerably more taxing earlier pages. Next up is the return to the A (which is a near exact repeat of the music just prior), a variation on the B-bridge, and then finally the brilliant closing section that combines both A and B melodies. I've read through it a couple of times, and it's going to be extremely enjoyable once I get it in my hands.

posted by sstrader at 8:58 PM in Music | permalink | comments (0)

August 18, 2010

Prokofiev Piano Sonata No. 4, 2nd movement

Beginning to get comfortable with the end of the first repeat of the A section, eight measures from 25 through 32, ending on the first measure of page 4. Page 3 is below:

prokofiev.sonata-4.ii.3.small.png

The overall structure (revising what I had in my first post) is:

  • A A-bridge (measures 1-24)
  • A B-bridge B (measures 25-53)
  • A B-bridge BA (measures 54-88)

I still have a tendency to hear the beginning A of the second section as belonging to the first section, but it is repeated note-for-note in the beginning of the third section and so may be more appropriately viewed in this new structure. The eight measures, crossing two pages, are stitched together in a single image below:

prokofiev.sonata-4.ii.3.m24-33.small.png

The instances of the A theme as first stated in measures 1-24 were interleaved: successive ones starting before the previous had ended. The instances of the A theme in these eight measures are placed against each other in contrary motion. The first four measures with the bass rising and the soprano falling until they cross; the second four with the upper voice splitting in two from a unison to the final note in measure 32 three octaves apart. Lines first converging and then spreading out. The interleaving in measures 1-24 make me think of different characters entering a scene in a movie or ballet, each talking against the other a la Altman. At measures 25-32, the conversations/dancers are more synchronized.

Technically, these have been the most strenuous and won't be completely comfortable for a while. The B theme will be both a physical respite and an aural one with noticeably less chromaticism.

posted by sstrader at 11:39 PM in Music | permalink | comments (2)

August 12, 2010

Prokofiev Piano Sonata No. 4, 2nd movement

I've got the first half of the A section, through measure 21, in my hands now. Here are the first two pages, the last measure of page 2 is measure 22 and the beginning of the A-section bridge:

prokofiev.sonata-4.ii.1.small.png prokofiev.sonata-4.ii.2.small.png

The chromatic theme is stated several times, beginning on different notes, and overlapping:

  • E in measures 2-7 in the right hand
  • B-flat in measures 5-9 in the left then right hand
  • E in measures 13-18 in the right hand
  • B-flat in measures 16-21 from left to right
  • E-flat in measures 19-21 in the left hand

This feels like A minor and then G minor in the last statement moving to the bridge. Measures 19-21 were the hairiest so far, but with the parts separated across the keyboard they were also the easiest to make audible sense of. Measures 13-15 (from the last two measures of page 1) are going to be more difficult to make sense of because those descending octave notes (played by the left hand) cut across the melody and accompaniment. At this point in my playing, the different parts in these measures are very muddled.

This evening, I focused primarily on 19-21:

prokofiev.sonata-4.ii.2.m19-21.png

posted by sstrader at 11:21 PM in Music | permalink | comments (0)

August 11, 2010

Prokofiev Piano Sonata No. 4, 2nd movement

The rest of the month is slated for looking at the 2nd movement of Prokofiev's 4th Piano Sonata. (Edition purchased a few years ago. Two years ago, I had worked on slow movements from two other Sonatas.) I started, slowly, a week or so ago but will be spending time every day for the rest of the month to see how far I can get.

There's a public domain score on IMSLP that appears to be the exact same printing as what I'm using (Leeds Music Corp. and Meliott/Melliot Press), so it will be convenient to reference and screencap it for inclusion here. Pages 9 through 16; eight in all.

Form: the A section contains a chromatic theme and runs to the first measure of page 4. The theme is repeated twice with the two instances connected by a three-measure bridge starting at the last measure of page 2. The B section begins with a fanfare-like bridge, then a page-and-a-half of a lyric theme. The A section returns at the top of page 6. At the bottom of that page the B section returns. In the middle of page 7, the lyric B theme returns again, this time with the chromatic A theme overlaid in the bass. Overall: A A-bridge A | B-bridge B A B-bridge B | BA.

posted by sstrader at 8:25 AM in Music | permalink | comments (0)