Sergei Prokofiev (1891 - 1953)
Piano Sonata No.8 in B flat Major Op. 84
The Eighth Sonata has good reason to be considered Prokofievís greatest keyboard work, and was premiered by Emil Gilels in 1944. The seemingly dazed, extra-terrestrial wandering in 1 once again baffled the musical establishment, who wondered how such apparent formlessess and the inquieto whirl which later erupts could ever be satisfactorily unified in performance; an admittedly thorny problem for even the finest pianist. Once more the idea war is paramount; a central march, sinister drum taps (quasi timpani) and, again, distantly heard funeral chimes, all evoking a feeling of the utmost disquiet and tense anticipation. 2, though progressing through some sly modulations, in engagingly removed from such alternately becalmed and raging despair, but the finale is among Prokofievís most dramatic and propulsive show-pieces. Here there is yet another greatly extended march-like diversion, and a conclusion full of ricocheting arpeggios and music as imperious as the last trump. Few virtuoso sonatas have ended with a more determined air of assertion and flourish.
© Bryce Morrison