It’s so important for Prokofiev's concerto not to become just a showpiece for the soloist


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’…

You are moments away from reading great content from The Strad

Register for FREE or Sign in to continue reading this article

Strad product montage

By registering you get:

  • Selected articles from the current issue of The Strad every month
  • Access to our ever-growing archive of features from past issues of The Strad
  • Our weekly e-newsletters with news, views and videos from the string world
  • To be part of the discussion by commenting on articles 
  • The latest exclusive offers from The Strad