Prokofiev’s whales

I’ve been binge listening to Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 1 recently. Premiered when he was 21 years old, the work is a unique combination of classical, romantic, dissonant and contemporary elements that will be emblematic of Prokofiev’s style to come. The grand overflowing polytonal theme in the beginning of the first movement is enough to send me over the edge. The same theme is heard again twice through the work. Prokofiev once called these 3 passages “the three whales that hold the piece together”. How apt!

Here’s Argerich wrestling with the whales.

The second movement could easily fit into a James Bond-esque movie.


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