David Ezra Okonsar | Sergei Prokofiev War Sonatas, Vol. 2

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Sergei Prokofiev War Sonatas, Vol. 2

by David Ezra Okonsar

Sergei Prokofiev "War Sonatas (N.6, 7 and 8) & Sonata N.9" Volume 2 Piano Sonatas N.8 and 9 by David Ezra Okonsar
Genre: Classical: Modernist
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Piano Sonata No. 8 in B-Flat Major, Op. 84: I. Andante dolce
15:54 $3.99
2. Piano Sonata No. 8 in B-Flat Major, Op. 84: II. Andante sognando
5:19 $3.99
3. Piano Sonata No. 8 in B-Flat Major, Op. 84: III. Vivace
12:00 $3.99
4. Piano Sonata No. 9 in C Major, Op. 103: I. Allegretto
8:46 $3.99
5. Piano Sonata No. 9 in C Major, Op. 103: II. Allegro strepitoso
3:11 $3.99
6. Piano Sonata No. 9 in C Major, Op. 103: III. Andante tranquillo
7:08 $3.99
7. Piano Sonata No. 9 in C Major, Op. 103: IV. Allegro con brio, ma non troppo presto
6:24 $3.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Piano Sonata No. 8 in B-flat major, Op. 84 (1944) and Piano Sonata No. 9 in C major, Op. 103 (1946-1947)

The last piece of this gigantic triptych: the "War Sonatas" is certainly the most complex in its content: Piano Sonata No. 8 in B-flat major, Op. 84 (1944). It is more difficult for the listener, requiring a long sustained concentration to be fully appreciated. So its popularity is much less than the previous two.

Sviatoslav Richter admirably described it: "a sort of heaviness, but this is due to its richness. Like a tree bending because of its fruits." The main difference between this Sonata and the ones number 6 and 7 is in its tendency towards introverted meditation, mostly in its first movement and also, partly, in the broadening of the musical discourse. It was premiered by Emil Guilels in 1944.

Andante dolce

Introverted, grave and serious music, expressed in a soft voice almost all through. A serene and melodic pace sometimes only partly animated. A section Poco piu animato presents a new motive, but again it does not create a sharp contrast. Even though whispering sixteenth notes appear and develop into arpeggios in various mixed tonalities the entire movement remains with some reserve.

In the middle section an obsessive tension is created with a uniform rhythm of quarter notes which will soon "break into exploding" fast runs of arpeggios and scales. This will transport the initial melodic setting into some other "visionary" places, in the last A of the A-B-A form, the Coda, even though built on the same material as the beginning, will be much less serene than it.

Andante sognando

In D-flat major this movement is a beautifully calm, "dreaming" and noble Menuetto-like movement. There is an amazing refinement in the seemingly consonant harmonization. Also to be noted is the richness and the elaboration of the secondary voices.


The last movement is rhythmical, "motorized", Toccata-like and long enough to "balance" the first. After the first exposition, just like in the first movement, a uniform rhythm section with quarter notes will raise to a hymn-like climax. Two softer sections: Pochissimo meno mosso and Andantino will cite some elements of the first movement. The last Vivace will bring a triumphal Coda.

Last completed work for the solo piano, the Sonata N.9 was composed during 1946-47 and dedicated to Sviatoslav Richter. "This will be "your" sonata.." said the composer, "..but do not expect a show piece. It is not made to strike the big hall of the (Moscow) Conservatory"

Despite its huge proportions and presenting some serious technical challenges to the performer, this last Sonata is extremely refined and "purified". The settling down and purification of the last period of Prokofiev can be clearly seen in that work. In many points, one can trace a parallel with the noble style of Poulenc, a good old friend of Prokofiev.

It starts without haste in a limpid serenity. Its brisk impulsions, fast runs (glissando-like 32nds.) and jerky rhythms, start when going towards the second theme. Those figures will be extensively used later in the piece.

The second theme, extremely purified, is not more than a few repeated notes. At the point "Poco meno mosso" appears a third motivic element which descends in chromatic steps on dotted rhythms.

A short reminder of the first part, with the two first themes, leads to an accompaniment figure which slowly animates from eights to triplets and leads to the third theme, but also includes the glissando-like figures mentioned earlier. This section is in the well known Prokofiev piano style.

A pianissimo transition in which the tonic rumbles at the left hand on two octaves span, brings the re-exposition in the key of B major. An unusual tonal layout, which however, returns to the main C major for the second theme and the Coda.

Allegro strepitoso
We have here again the composer's typically energetic, somehow dry and vigorous style. The swift run which starts the movement was actually foreshadowed at the end of the previous movement, in the low range and pianissimo. Interspersed with some nervous staccatos, it connects with the use of some rhythmical elements in a short section, to intentionally grotesque sonorities. Then, to staccatos figures again, this time followed up with chromatic figures.

A short development with previously heard elements leads to a transitional part "Meno mosso" and then to an "Andantino" with a very tidy ecriture. This section opposes broken arpeggios of the right hand with the chromaticism of the left.

Back to the first part but shortened and the Coda expires in a softened and rarefied line up.

Andante tranquillo
In the form ABA'B'A'', one can describe this movement as "day and night". First it is a "nocturne" in A-flat major, superb melody with a very tonal but not that conventional harmonizations. In the B part, Allegro sostenuto in C major, the light and energy of the "day" breaks in. This brings an agitation which is both happy and somewhat, mundane.

In the following two sections, same ideas, will reappear with some variations throughout the movement. A': shortened; B': starting in the basses with the theme accompanied by quintuplets. The last apparition of A (A'') leads to a Coda where on several occasions a cell of four sixteenths shows as a presages of the Finale.

Allegro con brio, ma non troppo presto
Vivacious, dancing, scooting around, the Finale is made up from the cell previously heard at the end of the preceding movement. The other main motive is a small group of staccatos alternating between hands.

A new theme, Poco meno mosso, combines several motivic elements in a generally ludicrous atmosphere.

In the central part, Andantino in E-flat major, both hands play sometimes in unison in octaves. At the Allegretto, both themes of the principal part appear in inverse order, setting the ground for the re-exposition.

During the vast Coda, made up out of an improvised figure from the beginning, the theme of the first movement reappear at the high ranges, backed up with quintuplets at the left hand. The following bars make the music fade in a harmonic haze. For his last Sonata, Prokofiev opted for an ending most discreet and reserved.



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