Recorded on 04/24/2009, uploaded on 05/02/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Though its origins date to two abandoned compositions from Prokofiev’s youthful years as a student at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, the Piano Sonata No. 4 in C minor was completed in 1917. It is a different kind of work from the sonatas which precede it. Instead of the usual lighthearted and comical mood which abounds in much of Prokofiev’s music, the Fourth Piano Sonata builds on the more serious tone adopted in its predecessor and sets out in a hesitant and restrained manner. Prokofiev dedicated the sonata to the memory of his friend Maximilian Schmidthof who had committed suicide four years earlier. Certainly, the event had its effect on the composer, but it is not readily apparent how much it influenced the compositions of the sonata. Perhaps holding more sway over the composer’s imagination, as it would later, was a world at war, the Germans advancing on Russia, and the impending October Revolution.
Comprised of three movements, the first two movement of the Fourth Piano Sonata are tentative, owing more to the style of Schumann and Brahms than the virtuosity of Franz Liszt. Here, Prokofiev finds himself quite the introvert, unable or unwilling to allow the full force of his emotions to break upon the listener. However, some of the restraints are lost in the Finale, which abounds with a rhythmic vitality that valiantly attempts to regain the spirit of his previous sonatas. Prokofiev premiered the sonata himself on April 17, 1918 in Petrograd. Joseph DuBose
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