Piano Sonata No. 7 (Prokofiev)

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Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 7 in B♭ major, Op. 83 (1942) (occasionally called the "Stalingrad") is a sonata composed for solo piano, the second of the three so-called "War Sonatas". The sonata was first performed on 18 January 1943 in Moscow by Sviatoslav Richter.


  • Early in 1943, I received the score of the Seventh Sonata, which I found fascinating and which I learned in just four days.... The work was a huge success. The audience clearly grasped the spirit of the work, which reflected their innermost feelings and concerns. (This was also felt to be the case with Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony, which dates from more or less the same period.) With this work we are brutally plunged into the anxiously threatening atmosphere of a world that has lost its balance. Chaos and uncertainty reign. We see murderous forces ahead. But this does not mean that what we lived by before thereby ceases to exist. We continue to feel and love. Now the full range of human emotions bursts forth. Together with our fellow men and women, we raise a voice in protest and share the common grief. We sweep everything before us, borne along by the will for victory. In the tremendous struggle that this involves, we find the strength to affirm the irrepressible life-force.
    • Sviatoslav Richter, In: Bruno Monsaingeon, Sviatoslav Richter: Notebooks and Conversations, trans. Stewart Spencer
  • One dramatic idea permeates the whole sonata. It seems that contradictory tendencies in the musical style of Prokofiev are exposed and lead to a greater synthesis. Romantic exaggeration of feelings in this sonata sharply contradicts the ironclad logic of the classical sonata-allegro. This bipolarity is reflected in the combination of the essentially two-part, Scarlatti-like piano writing with harsh chords of complex harmonic nature, in the complex modal structure of the sonata-allegro, and, most importantly, in the character of musical images. ... this sonata has none of [Prokofiev’s] beloved masques, nor has it the polypersonalia of early sonatas. The Seventh Sonata has one protagonist and one purpose. In this sense, it is a monodrama.
    • Givi Ordzhonikidze, Fortepiannye sonaty Prokofieva[Piano Sonatas by Prokofiev] (1962)

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