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’…

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