Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto provides myriad possibilities for interpretation – and Pekka Kuusisto takes inspiration from dreams, diamonds, the Beach Boys and Romeo and Juliet to find them. From the June 2018 issue
Some time in my mid-teens, my brother Jaakko and I went through an intense phase of listening to everything we could by Prokofiev. That must have been when I came across his First Violin Concerto op.19.
It’s a relatively early work and it has a lot in common with other pieces that he wrote around that time: the D major Flute Sonata that became his Violin Sonata no.2, and the ballet score for Cinderella. They both have a sense of transparency and weightlessness: there’s a fairy-tale quality that drew me in straight away.
The opening passage in the first movement is marked ‘sognando’, and I think this dreamlike state persists right through the concerto. Everything that happens after that takes place in that kind of fantasy world: I get the same sense in Schubert’s Winterreise, which opens with the song ‘Gute Nacht’.
There’s a brightness at the end of the concerto, representing the morning, but until that point the structure of the piece follows a sort of irregular dream logic. I’m also reminded of the Beach Boys song ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’…
What you get: