Piano Sonata No. 8 (Prokofiev)

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Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 8 in B♭ major, Op. 84 (1944) is a sonata for solo piano, the third of the Three War Sonatas. The sonata was first performed on 30 December 1944 in Moscow by Emil Gilels.


  • The Eighth is the most expansive of Prokofiev’s sonatas; the first move ment in particular unfolds in an unhurried fashion. The composer initially intended the sonata to consist of four movements, not three.
    • Boris Berman, Prokofiev’s Piano Sonatas : a guide for the listener and the performer (2008), "Sonata No. 8 in B-flat Major, op. 84"
  • I studied the sonata from the manuscript, and at that time I frequently visited S[ergei] S[ergeyevich] at home.... I played for him the work I had just learned very tentatively. S. S., while checking certain passages, made corrections in the score. Sometimes he would sit at the keyboard and, without playing every note, indicate what he would like to hear from the performer above all.
    • Emil Gilels, In: S. I. Shlifshtein, ed., S. S. Prokofiev: Materialy, dokumenty, vospominaniya[Materials, Documents, Memoirs] (1961)
  • Prokofiev himself played it at the Composers’ Union but it was Gilels who gave the first public performance. Prokofiev played it twice. Even after a single hearing, it was clear that this was a remarkable work, but when I was asked whether I planned to play it myself, I was at a loss for an answer. S. S. now had difficulty playing. He no longer had his former confidence, and his hands fluttered helplessly over the keys. After the second hearing, I was firmly resolved to learn the piece. Someone began to snigger: “It’s completely outdated! You don’t really want to play it?!” Of all Prokofiev’s sonatas, this is the richest. It has a complex inner life, profound and full of contrasts. At times it seems to grow numb, as if abandoning itself to the relentless march of time. If it is sometimes inaccessible, this is because of its richness, like a tree that is heavy with fruit. It remains one of my three favorite works, alongside the Fourth and Ninth Sonatas. Gilels played it magnificently at his recital in the Grand Hall.
    • Sviatoslav Richter, In: Bruno Monsaingeon, Sviatoslav Richter: Notebooks and Conversations, trans. Stewart Spencer

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