Hear all five of Prokofiev’s piano concertos—performed by the pianists Daniil Trifonov, George Li, Alexander Toradze Sergei Redkin, and Sergei Babayan under conductor Valery Gergiev—Wednesday, February 24 at 7:30pm in the Howard Gilman Opera House in Folk, Form, and Fire: The Prokofiev Piano Concertos, part of the The Mariinsky at BAM.
|Photo: Daniil Trifonov|
By Robert Jackson Wood
Written between 1911 and 1932, Prokofiev’s piano concertos trade in tempered lyricism, sardonic mischief-making, and jackhammer virtuosity—often in the span of mere measures. Composed largely to showcase his own keyboard prowess, they also bookend a period of relative experimentation for the composer. In 1932, the Central Committee of the Communist Party issued a decree ushering in what would become the doctrine of Socialist Realism—uplifting art that glorified the state was to supplant all self-indulgent modernist trifling—and Prokofiev, albeit cynically, would become one of its main musical emissaries. Though the provocateur in him found ways to persist during that time (see his Piano Sonata No.7, for example), few of his later works match the piano concertos in their brash commitment to innovation without fear of reproach.