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Piano Sonata No.3 in A Minor Op.28,’D'après des vieux cahiers’

Prokofiev: Sonata No. 3 in A minor, Op. 28

The Third Sonata, like the Fourth, is based on old notebooks and previous outlines. Unlike the Fourth, it has achieved considerable popularity and is the most widely performed of the entire set. Brilliant, witty and concise, the Third Sonata’s dramatic alternation of motoric energy and elegantly disengaged lyricism (two of Prokofiev’s hall-marks) has endeared it to many pianists. And it was long associated with Benno Moiseiwitsch who, with characteristic aplomb, often commenced rather than concluded his recitals with the Third Sonata.

Written in 1917, Op. 28 was first performed by the composer the following year. Fierce chromatic gusts oppose the opening’s bold and percussive start, though the music’s equestrian rhythm and virtuosity are later stemmed as Allegro tempestoso becomes Moderato tranquillo. Violence and assertion and Prokofiev’s distinctive sweet-and-sour lyricism are joined and contrasted throughout, and a barrage of chords and repeated notes climax in a gradual and sinister resumption of the prime material, and the coda, with its sudden dip from fff to pp and back to ff, ends with an emphatic confirmation of the sonata’s underlying rhythmic drive.

©Bryce Morrison

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