Sergei Prokofiev (1891 - 1953)
Piano Sonata No.9 in C Major Op. 103
The Ninth Sonata (completed in 1947 and dedicated to Richter) shows Prokofiev at his most whimsical, very much in his winter-story-telling mood. The opening Allegretto experiments half-heartedly with various ideas, and is haunted by memories of the Eighth Sonata’s first movement inquieto and the central Andante’s faux-naieve melody. 2 parodies a child’s five-finger exercises, and interrupts its pensive charm (a waltz rhythm perversely extended into four beats) with an episode straight out of French vaudville; almost as if Poulenc had stepped into the arena with all his Parisian blague and bustle. 4 contrasts an edgy gaiety with passages of a strangely attenuated beauty, and the end is as frail and ghostly as anything in Prokofiev.
© Bryce Morrison