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Quintet in G minor Op.39

Sergei Prokofiev (b. 1891 - d. 1953)

Composer
Sergei Prokofiev (b. 1891 - d. 1953)
Composition Year
1924
Work Movements
1. Tema - moderato, Variation I - L
2. Andante energico
3. Allegro sostenuto, ma con brio
4. Adagio pesante
5. Allegro precipitato
6. Andantino
Artists
Nicolas Daniel [oboe], Jörg Widmann [clarinet], Bartosz Woroch [violin], Adam Newman [viola], Dominic Dudley [double bass]

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

This quintet dates from Prokofiev's time in Paris in 1924, when he was still uncompromisingly modernist in his style. The contrast to his Violin Sonata, which we heard on Saturday, could not be greater; we could almost be listening to two different composers. 1924 was a dramatic year for him personally, with the birth of his first son and the death of his mother. It was also the year of his most ambitious and complex symphony, the Second. He was having mixed success in Paris with his works; it was more difficult to shock sophisticated Paris than either pre-war Russia or post-war USA. This meant he was still obliged to make his living from his prowess as a concert pianist.

The Quintet is a version of his ballet about circus life, Trapèze, which was premiered the following year in Berlin. The work varies from delicious tone painting of an almost lyrical nature, to steely dissonances and choreographically challenging rhythmical complexities. The instrumentation is unusual enough to be an attraction in itself. There is a wide range of moods from gentle to sardonic with, not surprisingly, a strong flavour of the burlesque. The six movements explore a fascinating variety of sound worlds and even the double bass has a share of the limelight, though inevitably the two wind instruments steal the show.

Later in life when he was back in Soviet Russia, Prokofiev felt obliged to answer the inevitable criticism of this work's formalist tendencies by blaming the decadent Parisian atmosphere, where complex patterns and dissonances were the accepted thing and fostered my predilection for complex thinking.

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Quintet in G minor Op.39

Composer: Sergei Prokofiev (b. 1891 - d. 1953)
Performance date: Monday 28th June 2010
Venue: St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland

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Composer Sergei Prokofiev (b. 1891 - d. 1953)
Work Title Quintet in G minor Op.39
Composition Year 1924
Work Movements 1. Tema - moderato, Variation I - L
2. Andante energico
3. Allegro sostenuto, ma con brio
4. Adagio pesante
5. Allegro precipitato
6. Andantino
Artist(s) Nicolas Daniel [oboe], Jörg Widmann [clarinet], Bartosz Woroch [violin], Adam Newman [viola], Dominic Dudley [double bass]
Performance Date Monday 28th June 2010
Performance Venue St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland
Event Stars in the Afternoon
Duration 00:20:31
Recording Engineer Anton Timoney, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Quintet
Instrumentation ob, cl, vn, va, db
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys

This quintet dates from Prokofiev's time in Paris in 1924, when he was still uncompromisingly modernist in his style. The contrast to his Violin Sonata, which we heard on Saturday, could not be greater; we could almost be listening to two different composers. 1924 was a dramatic year for him personally, with the birth of his first son and the death of his mother. It was also the year of his most ambitious and complex symphony, the Second. He was having mixed success in Paris with his works; it was more difficult to shock sophisticated Paris than either pre-war Russia or post-war USA. This meant he was still obliged to make his living from his prowess as a concert pianist.

The Quintet is a version of his ballet about circus life, Trapèze, which was premiered the following year in Berlin. The work varies from delicious tone painting of an almost lyrical nature, to steely dissonances and choreographically challenging rhythmical complexities. The instrumentation is unusual enough to be an attraction in itself. There is a wide range of moods from gentle to sardonic with, not surprisingly, a strong flavour of the burlesque. The six movements explore a fascinating variety of sound worlds and even the double bass has a share of the limelight, though inevitably the two wind instruments steal the show.

Later in life when he was back in Soviet Russia, Prokofiev felt obliged to answer the inevitable criticism of this work's formalist tendencies by blaming the decadent Parisian atmosphere, where complex patterns and dissonances were the accepted thing and fostered my predilection for complex thinking.