Thursday, April 21, 2011

About Prokofiev - Just in Case You Do Not Know...

I was looking over some of the piano music of Prokoviev the other day, in the event I should like to go back to a period of practice time involving the fracturing of some of my knuckles in order to catapult some of his music into existence for some future recital - do keep in mind that Prokofiev wrote piano music almost exclusively for his own technique, as virtuoso composers traditionally do, such as Rachmaninoff, Liszt etc.
Prokofiev drove some of his teachers virtually mad by way of his unique physical attitude toward the piano, which mirrors his commensurately unique music for the instrument, for the most part.
As an example (for those of you who are accomplished pianists who have yet to confront Prokofiev); sit down and start working on the third movement of his 7th Sonata, which is both i-s-o-rhythmic and in 7/8 time - talk about knuckle busters!
In looking over his material, I came across a piece I had totally forgotten about which I did, I think, twice in public, many years ago; and that is the composer's own piano reduction of Peter and the Wolf.
It is wonderfully sculpted for the piano, in that it is equal in effect to his famous orchestral incarnation, as it captures the aura of the legend as well as the version for narrator and orchestra.
So, if you do not know of the piano reduction, do acquire it and indulge in a rather delightful experience.
Some years back, I asked a friend of mine, who was a well-known radio announcer in the large city I live close to, if he should like to be narrator in a performance with me of the piano reduction. He was delighted at the idea, as we could not find any evidence of it having been done in that form in our part of the country. And so we had a small number of sessions at my home, in rehearsal.
Sadly, the gentleman passed away unexpectedly; and so our collaboration never came to pass.
However, in the ensuing years, I did perform the piano reduction twice, as I recall - I do remember the delightful experience quite well, now that I think of it.
I remember layering some additional material to the original reduction during the final parade as the wolf was being taken to the zoo, and privately exulted in the fact that I was actually adding
to the difficulties already perpetrated by the composer!
And so the days of Hubris come and go...



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