Prokofiev piano sonatas

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prokofiev’s piano sonatas


Boris Berman

piano sonatas
a guide for the listener and the performer
Yale University Press • New Haven and London

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Published with the assistance of the Frederick W. Hilles Publication Fund of Yale University. Also published withassistance from the foundation established in memory of Philip Hamilton McMillan of the Class of 1894, Yale College. Copyright © 2008 by Yale University. All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, including illustrations, in any form (beyond that copying permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the public press), withoutwritten permission from the publishers. Set in Scala by The Composing Room of Michigan, Inc. Printed in the United States of America. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Berman, Boris. Prokofiev’s piano sonatas : a guide for the listener and the performer / Boris Berman. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-300-11490-4 (cloth : alk. paper) 1. Prokofiev,Sergey, 1891–1953. Sonatas, piano. 2. Sonatas (Piano)— Analysis, appreciation. I. Title. MT145.P8B47 2008 786.2 183092—dc22 2007030926 A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. The paper in this book meets the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council on Library Resources. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 To my mother

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Preface ix Acknowledgments xiii Prokofiev: His Life and the Evolution of His Musical Language 1 Prokofiev the Pianist 22 Sonata No. 1 in F Minor, op. 1 48 Sonata No. 2 in D Minor, op. 14 57 Sonata No. 3 in A Minor, op. 28 75 Sonata No. 4 in C Minor, op. 29 84 Sonata No. 5 in C Major, op. 38 (First Version), op. 135 (Second Version)102 Sonata No. 6 in A Major, op. 82 129 Sonata No. 7 in B-flat Major, op. 83 151 Sonata No. 8 in B-flat Major, op. 84 169 Sonata No. 9 in C Major, op. 103 193 Sonata No. 10 in E Minor, op. 137 212 Conclusion: To Be a Prokofiev Pianist 215 Glossary of Selected Terms 217 Notes 223 Credits 229 Index 233

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Within the vast, virtually limitless pianorepertoire, the piano sonatas of Sergei Prokofiev occupy a special place. Apart from Alexander Scriabin early in the century, Prokofiev was the only major twentieth-century composer to pay such consistent attention to the form, which had emerged in the eighteenth century, reached its pinnacle in the thirty-two sonatas by Beethoven, and was further developed through the masterpieces of Schubert, Chopin,Schumann, and Brahms. While other important twentieth-century composers, such as Rachmaninov, Bartók, Hindemith, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Ives, Medtner, Barber, Ginastera, Boulez, Schnittke, and Carter, wrote occasional works in this genre, Prokofiev wrote nine piano sonatas, which became cornerstones of the piano repertoire. They are a constant presence in concert programs and are considered anindispensable part of the repertoire by almost every serious concert pianist. Piano students all over the world study them. Prokofiev had a lifelong love of the sonata form. Ever since learning the basic rules during his childhood years, he strove to master them; a group of piano sonatas he wrote while a student at the St. Petersburg Conservatory reflect this interest. Prokofiev retained hisfascination with the form for the rest of his life. In 1941, describing his Sonatinas op. 54 (1931), he remarked, “I liked the idea of writing a simple work in such a superior form as sonata.”1 One can learn a lot about the composer’s growth by tracing his progress


x Preface

from the early sonatas, which cautiously dare to bend the textbook rules, to the masterful treatment of the form in his...
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