GMN - Your Arts Network
GMN - Your Arts Network ClassicalPlus
Home Artists Composers Webcasts Downloads News Shop Contests Forums


 GMN Premium
 Classical Radio
 Classical Forum
FREE Newsletter

The GMN Shop
The MediaPlayer
Content Archive
Free Music
Grove Dictionary
All Searches

Email This Page Email This Page

 New User Sign Up
 Sign In
 Select a Player

Sarcasms Op.17

Sergey Prokofiev (1891-1953)

5 Sarcasms Op.17

The Sarcasms, Op.17 constitute a small suite of five pieces written between 1912 and 1914 by a brilliant young man with tremendous command of the keyboard and a grotesque style in which rough accents and jagged rhythms oppose lyrical themes. The witty promise we find in these pieces today eluded most listeners when the composer played them for the first time in St. Petersburg in 1916. The music – like Prokofiev’s earlier Suggestion diabolique, and Toccata (premiered together with the Sarcasms) – alarmed the audience and the critics by its wild brutality. Even the terminology in the score was rife with exaggeration: tempestoso (stormily), ironico (ironically), congran effeto (with great effect), singhiozzando (sobbingly), smanioso (maniacally), precipitosissimo (very precipitously) – probably under the influence of the Scriabin, with whom Prokofiev was 'somewhat infatuated' and whose scores were endowed with not dissimilar verbiage. The twenty-three-year-old composer’s originality was revealed startlingly through then-strange, even repugnant harmonies, rhythms and melodies – while the forms remained simple, as befits works as short as a minute-and-a-half or as long as a two-and-a-half-minutes.

Here is the eyewitness account by pianist Heinrich Neuhaus of a private performance of this music by the composer (in the year before the premiere): Prokofiev was invited to the play. He went over to the piano at once, placed a sheet of music on the stand – it was the manuscript of the Sarcasms he has just finished – and played a few chords…We all gathered around to look at the music. My uncle, Felix Mikhailovich Blumenfeld, who happened to be standing just behind him put on his pince-nez and peered at the manuscript. Sergei Sergeyvich, about to begin playing, suddenly turned to him and said, 'Felix Mikhailovich, you had better move away or I am afraid you may want to hit me over the head.' Everyone laughed. My uncle smiled…but moved away nevertheless. Sergei Sergeyevich played the Sarcasms. The effect was astounding. Some people were delighted, others indignant. Clearly music which was meant to create astonishment!

© Frank Cooper

 Featured Item

Read more

gmnyour arts network 
 GMN ClassicalPlus 
 GMN JazzPlus 
Become an Affiliate · Contact Us · Advertising · Links
Home · Register · Terms of Use · Privacy Policy · Information Center · Help

Copyright © 1999 - 2001 Global Music Network Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Music downloads, audio and video provided for personal, non-commercial use only and may not be re-distributed.

Wed, Jul 15, 2020 11:37:52 PM US EST
back to top
0.0390625 Seconds
v4.0b - - True