Prokofiev on Prokofiev

Serge Prokofiev, writing about the Fifth Piano Concerto in his Autobiography-

 

If we discount the Fourth Concerto for left hand, more than ten years had passed since I had written a piano concerto. Since then my conception of the treatment of this form had changed somewhat, some new ideas had occurred to me (a passage running across the entire keyboard, with the left hand overtaking the right; chords in the piano and orchestra interrupting one another, etc.) and finally I had accumulated a good number of vigorous major themes in my notebook. I had not intended the concerto to be difficult and at first had even contemplated calling it “Music for Piano and Orchestra,” partly to avoid confusing the concerto numbers. But in the end it turned out to be complicated, as indeed was the case with a good many other compositions of this period. What was the explanation? In my desire for simplicity I was hampered by the fear of repeating old formulas, of reverting to ‘old simplicity,’ which is something all modern composers seek to avoid. I searched for ‘new simplicity’ only to discover that this new simplicity, with its novel forms and, chiefly, new tonal structure, was not understood. The fact that here and there my efforts to write simply were not successful is beside the point. I did not give up, hoping that the bulk of my music would in time prove to be quite simple when the ear grew accustomed to the new melodies, that is, when these melodies became the accepted idiom. 

The Surrey Mozart Players will be performing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto no. 5 in G this Saturday, March 28 at the United Reformed Church, Guildford. More here-

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at www.kennethwoods.net

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