Classical Music | Cello Music

Sergei Prokofiev

Sonata for Cello and Piano in C Major, op.119  Play

Christoph Croisé Cello
Noreen Polera Piano

Recorded on 12/14/2017, uploaded on 12/14/2017

Musician's or Publisher's Notes

Sergei Prokofiev was already 58 years old when he composed his first and only cello sonata at a time when his life was tumultuous both privately and professionally. In 1948, Prokofiev married his second wife Mira Mendelson, with whom he had lived since 1941. In the same year, his first wife Lina, originally from Spain, was arrested after having applied for emigration and sentenced as an alleged spy to 20 years in a Siberian labor camp where she spent eight years. Professionally, the Soviet composer, who had been widely recognized since the end of the war, fell into disgrace along with his fellow composers Dmitri Shostakovich, Nikolai Myaskovsky and Aram Khachaturian.  His compositions were accused of ‘formalism’ and, according to the Culture Minister Andrei Zhdanov and the Communist Party, formalism was a Western concept to be rejected as contrary to Soviet cultural ideals. 


After being deeply impressed by the interpretation of Myaskovsky‘s Sonata No. 2 by the twenty-two year old Mstislav Rostropovich, Prokofiev composed his cello sonata in C-Major for the young cellist in 1949. The Union of Soviet Composers‘ jury assessed the composition and approved its performance. In 1951, two years prior to Prokofiev‘s death, the sonata was premiered by Rostropovich and Richter in the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. 


The masterpiece which Prokofiev created with his cello sonata is a flagship of the cello-piano repertoire of the 20th century. It is written in a remarkably clear musical language with frugal harmony and rhythm, the solid key C-Major, the warm cello sound, the three movements and recurring themes. The sonata offers elements of cheerfulness and humor along with imitations of elegiac-nostalgic Russian folks tunes.    Notes by Jean Croisé