Thursday, October 24, 2013

"A Force of Nature" - Prokofiev Performing His Third Concerto...

My curiosity about the piano music of Serge Prokofiev came into full focus around my 15th or 16th year when I heard the Horowitz recording of the composer's seventh sonata. For the final movement to be non-stop and in seven/eight time absolutely overwhelmed my young ears - and from that time, my adoration of his unique voice  has never faltered.
Shortly after my first experience with the sonata, I came across a recording of  Prokofiev himself , in a performance of his 3rd piano concerto. I clearly recall my primary reaction to the playing and the material being played; namely 'how is it possible to play the piano like this? or to write music like this for the piano?'
I then began a study of this man, and uncovered the unprecedented physical approaches to the instrument, which, of course, his architectural view of the piano, as a composer, demanded.
I was, as a youngster, totally captivated by his intransigence during his student days; attaining low marks in some  of his exams; actually failing some - simply because those teachers did or could not comprehend the vision that this young genius represented through his profound imagery, especially in a system that has been extant for centuries; that is, the Diatonic language. It confounded the educational system that the young student called Prokofiev was part of, and he most assuredly created more than one enemy by both his sublime language and his social demeanor, especially his derision of various elements of the educational institutions he was surrounded by and immersed in.
At any rate, the 1932 recording of Prokofiev playing his 3rd concerto was his first experience in recording, as I recall. He complained that in one section a clarinet played wrong notes; and so, that section was re-recorded with the clarinet notes corrected - unfortunately, Prokofiev found that his  piano playing was not good enough, and so that section had to be re-recorded once again.
The recording session lasted two or three days. The conductor, Copolla, remarked in his diary that Prokofiev was a "force of Nature", and also said that" Russians, when they put their mind to it, are incredible."
For those of you who love the music of Prokofiev, do listen to the magic of his playing - he was, indeed, a Force of Nature...

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