David Ezra Okonsar | Sergei Prokofiev War Sonatas, Vol. 1

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Sergei Prokofiev War Sonatas, Vol. 1

by David Ezra Okonsar

Sergei Prokofiev "War Sonatas (N.6, 7 and 8) & Sonata N.9": Volume 1 Piano Sonatas N.6 and 7 by David Ezra Okonsar
Genre: Classical: Modernist
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Piano Sonata No. 6 in A Major, Op. 82: I. Allegro moderato
10:10 $3.99
2. Piano Sonata No. 6 in A Major, Op. 82: II. Allegretto
6:33 $0.99
3. Piano Sonata No. 6 in A Major, Op. 82: III. Tempo di valzer lentissimo
8:08 $0.99
4. Piano Sonata No. 6 in A Major, Op. 82: IV. Vivace
8:21 $0.99
5. Piano Sonata No. 7 in B-Flat Major, Op. 83: I. Allegro inquieto
8:32 $0.99
6. Piano Sonata No. 7 in B-Flat Major, Op. 83: II. Andante caloroso
7:06 $0.99
7. Piano Sonata No. 7 in B-Flat Major, Op. 83: III. Precipitato
3:33 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
The "War Sonatas" by Prokofiev:
Piano Sonata No. 6 in A major, Op. 82 (1940)
Piano Sonata No. 7 in B-flat major, Op. 83 (1942) (occasionally called the "Stalingrad")

After spending some time in the United States, then Germany and Paris, Prokofiev returned to Soviet Russia which he left after the revolution.

Sixteen years passed before he composed his next Sonata: number 6 in A major op.82. This work was going to be the first of a series of three to be called "The War Sonatas".

He cherished the idea of thinking about the Sonatas 6, 7 and 8 as a huge "sonata" in eleven movements. According to Myra Mendelssohn, Prokofiev got this idea when reading Romain Rolland on Beethoven.

Finished in 1942, the Sonata number 7 in B-flat major op.83 is the most popular of the three, while the last "War Sonata": N.8 in B-flat major, is the most complex.

The Piano Sonata No. 6 in A major, Op. 82 (1940) was first performed on April 8, 1940 in Moscow. The first performer other than the composer was Sviatoslav Richter. The young pianist relates: "I was astonished by the amazing clarity of style and the perfect construction of this music. I have never heard anything like this before. With a barbaric boldness the composer breaks with the romantic role models to give life to his music with the devastating urges of the twentieth century."

The word "barbaric" is actually not inappropriate for this music. Here, Prokofiev, undoubtedly impressed by the world in war, gets into a kind of violence in his musical language as well as a sort of radicalism unseen in his works since he returned to the USSR.

Allegro moderato

The theme, in alternating minor - major thirds is hard, nervous and sharp edged. It is also one of the most characteristic ones of the composer.

After a section of alternating octaves and chords in both hands, piano, a second theme appears with an amazing purity and softness. A tender melody in unison at both hands.

The ecriture, from linear, becomes gradually compacted and tormented. Troubling triplets at the low range conclude the exposition section of the movement.

In the development section, the mixture of threads and anxious drives is expressed with repeated notes. The dramatic content of this section is based on the opposition of the lyrical second theme always scattered with the "demoniacal" thirds which constitute the main element of the first theme.

The cruelty of the discourse raises with harsh chords and glissandos. Then the tension falls to more serene harmonies and the development section also ends with the staccato triplet figures at the basses.

The shortened re-exposition, taken one octave lower, re-states all those chaotic visions.


The second movement, in E major, is somewhat relaxed. Staccato chords present a wandering melody.

A definitely vertical ecriture alternated with a melody in large steps. At the key signature change, from E major to C major, repeated chords over a strong left hand melody bring back the first E major theme with fast falling arpeggios in the left hand.

The middle part, Meno mosso, is a melodic and linear one, yet it also includes elements from the previous theme.

Tempo di valzer lentissimo

Following the previous "quasi scherzando" movement, a passionate lyricism appears in this "waltz" in 9/8 time.

With flexible and amorous chromaticism, it, nevertheless brings in the middle section a darker shade with the ostinato basses even though the elegiac right hand "tries to keep going."


Back to the atrocities, the tormented figure as if cut with retch, starts a whirling hallucination. Between its various appearances other themes appear. One of them, the movement's main other theme, is melodic but others are angular and contorted.

The middle section, Andante, presents the first theme of the first movement, but as a distant remembrance: veiled and wrapped in a haze.

In the concluding parts, a merciless battle is engaged between the present movement's main themes and the first theme of the first movement. That last one will end the Sonata in an aggressive pacing.

Completed in 1942, Piano Sonata No. 7 in B-flat major, Op. 83 is the most popular of Prokofiev's Sonatas. Shorter than the previous one, it is, nevertheless, analogous to it by its mixture of sheer anxiety, top rage and also meditative and lyrical sections.

The first movement does not have a key signature, the others do have E major and B flat major keys. The sonata was premiered in Moscow on January 18, 1943 by Sviatoslav Richter.

Allegro inquieto

The movement is in the form: A B A' B A''. The first theme, presented in unison at both hands, is short, angular and agitated. It is promptly followed by a pounding of a four-notes long motivic cell that will have an important part in the development sections.

The initial A section is partly in a horizontal ecriture, sometimes polyphonic and other times with crudely dissonant sharp-edged chords. The movement, thereafter, is somewhat calming its pace with the reappearance of the four-notes motive on C, and, after a little outburst of energetic chords, it leads to the B section.

This B section, Andantino, is in total contrast with the preceding one, it is suggesting a painful intimacy and a somehow undecided tonal orientation. With a poco a poco accelerando the A section returns, this time intensified in its fury and percussive aggressiveness.

The previously mentioned four-cell motive will reappear here in the low range and with longer timings of its notes, thus intensifying the dramatic impact with a rigid gravity.

A shortened Andantino briefly appears leading to the last A section which will drop down and get lost in the low keys of the keyboard.

Andante caloroso

After the frightening asperity of the first movement and its almost atonal harmonization, the Andante caloroso brings a warmness in a deliciously tender setting of the E major and with a lyricism which seems to be thought for a cello and solo viola.

A middle section starting with a fast scale brings, again, the torments and horrors which spread through the entire work. Obsessive and hallucinating ostinato notes with wandering chords above and below may remind bells sounding. The Coda is a short reprise of the initial melody.


A very popular movement with its 7/8 setting and the ostinato interval of B-flat - C-sharp at the left hand. This minor third interval is always in conflict with the major settings of the right hand.

It is a non-stop progression of chords, often built on a scale-wise motion of notes in B-flat major. The 7 eight motion is mostly grouped as 2 + 2 + 3. The accent on the left hand, on the C-sharp octave, is acting as a "disrupter" and it is de-stabilizing the right hand groups, thus creating all through the movement a feeling of unrest.

Even though the movement is in ABC BA form, the B and C sections, remembrances of the first movement, do not create any distinct contrasts but integrate in the overall agitation.



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