View Poll Results: Who wins?

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  • Prokofiev for the win by a lot

    22 19.30%
  • Prokofiev for the win, but barely

    24 21.05%
  • It's a tie / Don't ask me

    28 24.56%
  • Shostakovich for the win, but barely

    23 20.18%
  • Shostakovich for the win by a lot

    17 14.91%
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Thread: Shostakovich vs. Prokofiev

  1. #16
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    In his second piano concerto Prokofiev painted a vision of pianist on LSD trip. At the beginning he feels languorous and finds himself on some magical plains, he sits by the grand piano with his hair in mess and semiconscious, the grand piano stands on the grass on a meadow, there landscape is more varied though, there are mountains on the north and lesser hills everywhere, it may be sunrise or evening, the sky is covered with pinkish clouds and rays of sun, the cloud are slowly passing over the pianists as he begins to playt first themes of the concerto, he doesn't know what it's all about and where he is or what's happening to him but sice he's a pianist and sits by the piano he plays and so it begins, he looks halfconciously at the sky and all that goes on around him, he feels the wind and plays, in later, fast movements, especially 3rd a magical storm rises and the pink clouds move much faster and storms and hurricanes are coming to consume the pianists but he forces them back with his playing, they are getting closer and closer and move, wave, throw and agitate everything, includig his huge hair and he plays in the eye of the storm looking in the distance with eyes that look more through something that at something and so he plays and plays and then it ends and he's still playing and I don't know who he was I hope he enjoyed good and long life.

    I used to like Shostakovich but I rarely listen to him now. Prokofiev too. I don't think I'll ever turn into great fan of them. They are and probably will remain composers from the middle of my "I like" list.

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    Senior Member violadude's Avatar
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    hmm If you took them genre by genre:

    Solo Piano: I think this is really a tie....between Prokofiev's amazing sonatas and Shostakovich's amazing P&F's I just can't decide
    String Quartet's: Shostakovich for sure
    Other Chamber music: I would say Shostakovich for the piano trios but just barely as Prokofiev wrote and amazing cello sonata
    Symphonies: This is a really tough one...I think Prokofiev's symphonies are a bit more consistent in quality...but Shostakovich wrote some really great ones. They're just so different I don't know which one to choose
    Ballet: Prokofiev definitely. Romeo and Juliet and Scythian Suite beats The Gadfly any day IMO
    Opera: I haven't heard either's Opera....so someone else will have to fill in this blank
    Piano Concertos: Prokofiev definately
    Violin Concertos: Shostakovich, I'm not sure why but even though many people really laud Prokofiev's 2nd Vln Concerto, I could never get into it.
    Film music: Prokofiev

  3. #18
    Senior Member Il_Penseroso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by science View Post

    I know a few people who worship Shostakovich, and I don't think I know anyone who are such big fans of Prokofiev.

    But we'll give it a go anyway.
    Well, for me Prokofiev is one of the most important composers, a real genius, but in his dramatic works : incidental musics, film scores, ballets , operas , etc ... I don't like his piano sonatas and concertos. for me they are out of taste , and sometimes after listening to one of his sonatas for example, I shrug and say "Excellent ! Superb piano technique ! But then, so what ?" on the other hand I never get tired of listening to Scythian Suite, Classical Symphony, his last ballet The tale of the stone flower and the most important his film scores. I do believe Alexander Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible have the best film music ever written.

    Shostakovich ... How can I say I dislike him as I have spent hours and hours listening to his Symphonies Nos. 7, 11 and 14 (such masterworks). But, there are things in his music which seem not so beautiful to me, I mean different elements in his music, often quite opposite and sometimes as much as the entire work gets ruined because of this. I wish he had composed less but more pure in quality.
    Last edited by Il_Penseroso; Jul-11-2011 at 14:11.
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  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by emiellucifuge View Post
    Prokofiev's bunch of works are really nothing special at all whereas Shostakovich wrote 15 string quartets including a few masterpieces and also incredible piano trios.
    I dunno, I always thought Prokofiev's chamber music was of quite a high quality. I prefer it to the solo piano works.

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    Judging from my collection, I have more Shostakovich recordings, but between the two, I don't have a strong preference, so I've put them at a tie.

  6. #21
    Moderator Huilunsoittaja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by science View Post
    In honor of the success of the Mozart v. Beethoven thread, I want to do this 'n!

    I know a few people who worship Shostakovich, and I don't think I know anyone who are such big fans of Prokofiev.

    But we'll give it a go anyway.
    Well, we'll just have to change that, shall we?

    DAHH! Didn't you read my post from that other poll from before??? Never ever ever pit these 2 guys together! They're both awesome, just in slightly different ways.

    This is the way they are different:

    Prokofiev- the hyper-optimist, Enfante Terrible, Master of humor, Extroverted dandy

    Shostakovich- the pessimist, Sarcasm Wizard , Introverted, nervous and sensitive thinker

    This is the way they are the same:

    Prokofiev and Shostakovich - creators of monsters and masterpieces, and most of all, shared a Russian composition style. Oh, and both needed glasses.
    Last edited by Huilunsoittaja; Jul-11-2011 at 18:08. Reason: Addition
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  8. #22
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    Would it be possible & reasonable to say that Prokofiev is mozartesque and Shostakovich beethovenesque? (just to see if we can let the two threads cross-breed)

  9. #23
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    I'll try a personal breakdown:

    Symphonies - tie. It's easy to say that since Shostakovich wrote more and thus had a more significant output here, but having listened carefully to Prokofiev's symphonies for years now, my conclusion is - every single one of them is a masterpiece. His symphonic output is so varied, I've often said that it's impossible for me to pick just one. My current order is - 2,3,5,6 (tie) then 1,4,7 (just barely behind).

    Operas - Shostakovich wrote two very good operas (The Nose and Lady Macbeth), but Prokofiev wrote more (The Fiery Angel, Betrothal in a Monastery, Love for Three Oranges, War and Peace, The Gambler). Prokofiev's style is much more suited to dramatic repertoire, in my opinion. Dreariness cannot usually be well taken to the stage, but a vivid imagination and sense of wit almost always can.

    Ballets - I don't think there really is much a competition here, with the nod obviously going to Prokofiev. He was simply one of the masters of this genre, equaling the efforts of composers such as Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky. Even more so than these two composers, works like Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet are capable of 'telling' stories in a fantastic way that incorporates Prokofiev's own ideas and commentary behind them. Today I like Chout and Le pas d'acier almost as much as his two more famous works.

    Piano Concertos - Again, Prokofiev was a master of the form, perhaps the greatest since Beethoven and Mozart. From the Russian village melodies of the 3rd piano concerto to the striking modernity of the 5th concerto, a keen sense of ideas just seem to pour out of the piano - and only the best pianists can master these works. The 2nd is definitely the height of his oeuvre. It starts with an almost East Asian like melody and surges into a tempestuous cadenza. There are some orchestral bits in the work that can literally knock one's socks off, especially the "explosion" at the end of the 3rd movement (which by the way, has this softer part that is practically the most wondrous, sensual thing I've ever heard). The 4th movement is a precedent to minimalism in many ways, as well as a good culmination of both the neo-romantic and modernist spirit. I also don't hold to the notion that the 4th concerto is 'weaker' either - it remains one of the great works for the left hand along with Ravel's.

    Violin Concertos - tie, with a personal preference for Prokofiev. However, it's the first concerto by Prokofiev that has really 'clicked' with me. It was a groundbreaking work at it's premiere, a reaction against Stravinsky's Rite in many ways, yet the aural, Romantic quality of the work is beautiful in a contemporary way. The 2nd movement is crazy - the violin is asked to play off-pitch and slide to the point that it sounds like a duck - and if that's not awesome enough, there are these cool psychedelic sounds in the back to boot. The third movement contains the most romantic of all Prokofiev melodies, but then leads into this intense modernist display of tension. The trilled rephrase of the 1st movement intro is brilliant.

    Piano Works - Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues are some of my favorite works. The D flat major fugue for example is just wild, sprawling, a monster of its form. The e minor prelude is as solemn and haunting as music can be, and this is only two of a giant and consistent set of 24. That said, Prokofiev's sonatas are an equal match. His dissonance is at it's best here, as is his harmonic creativeness. The War Sonatas (Nos. 6-8) are at the peak of the 20th century piano repertoire as well as the virtuosic piano repertoire in general. The two composers would be at a tie, if Prokofiev didn't write a whole bunch of other piano works to boot that I simply love - the one-of-a-kind Toccata, the Vision Fugitives, the Diabolical Suggestion that I posted earlier... it goes on. So I don't think it can be denied that Prokofiev was the more significant composer here.

    Choral Music - Neither composer really had a very significant choral output, and of Prokofiev's output I've only heard Seven, they are Seven (not interested in the Stalin hails). All I can say is that this work shocked audiences at its premiere, and is somehow akin to demons screaming at you with giant drums and hell fire pouring down.

    Orchestral Music - Prokofiev's output edges Shostakovich's here. The jazz suites are cool, but with the Scythian suite, the Sinfonietta, and a large number of smaller 'tone poem'-like reflections and incidental music, Sergei is very much in his own here.

    Chamber Music - Shostakovich trumps Prokofiev here. The Piano Quintet is one of the greatest pieces of chamber music in history as is the 8th string quartet and a whole bunch of others that for some reason have turned out much less famous than they should be. The only thing I have to say for Prokofiev are his wonderful violin sonatas (the best of the 20th century, along with Medtner) and the Quintet - a unique work with variations from his 'spicy' period (approx. 2nd symphony).

    Overall, I'm kind of a Prokofiev nut, so my opinions shouldn't be taken too seriously. But I think what I'm most addicted to in his work is the colors and the imagination, whereas Shostakovich often seems to me to be too (if I may quote a now departed TC member) 'battleship gray'.
    Last edited by Air; Jul-12-2011 at 06:32.
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  11. #24
    Moderator Huilunsoittaja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Air View Post
    Choral Music - Neither composer really had a very significant choral output, and of Prokofiev's output I've only heard Seven, they are Seven (not interested in the Stalin hails). All I can say is that this work shocked audiences at its premiere, and is somehow akin to demons screaming at you with giant drums and hell fire pouring down.
    Oh! I forgot about that one! That definitely needs to be mentioned on the "Terrifying Music" thread. Gosh, Prokofiev really knew how to make scary stuff, didn't he? I think I know what's up with it though. It takes a terrified man to make terrified music. The Fiery Angel was the end of that long period.

    I am too a Prokofiev fanatic more than a Shostakovich fanatic. But I voted that Prokofiev would win just barely, because Shostakovich's orchestral works are quite commendable. Both composers can make me very happy when listening to them, but Prokofiev is still closer to me, in that I'm more like him in mentality. Seize the day!
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  13. #25
    Senior Member TxllxT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Air View Post
    I'll try a personal breakdown:


    Choral Music - Neither composer really had a very significant choral output, and of Prokofiev's output I've only heard Seven, they are Seven (not interested in the Stalin hails). All I can say is that this work shocked audiences at its premiere, and is somehow akin to demons screaming at you with giant drums and hell fire pouring down.
    Both Alexander Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible have choir parts that really carry these works. Prokofiev seems to follow the Russian Orthodox tradition, but of course he makes that very much fitting into his own tradition.

  14. #26
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    Default Prokofiev vs. Shostakovich

    Symphonies: Shostakovich by ten lengths
    String Quartets: Shostakovich by ten lengths
    Cello solo works: Shostakovich by a head (Concerto #1)
    Violin solo works: Shostakovich by a head (Concerto #1)
    Piano concerti: Prokofiev by ten lengths
    Operas: Prokofiev Love for Three Oranges by two lengths over Lady Macbeth
    Ballet: Dead heat (Age of Gold vs. Romeo and Juliet)
    Other chamber works: Shostakovich by a few lengths (Piano Quintet, 2nd Piano trio, Preludes and Fugues)
    Film scores: Prokofiev by ten lengths - did Shostakovich write *any* memorable film scores?
    Miscellany: Prokofiev by a length for Peter and the Wolf

    Final decision: Shostakovich by a length

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  16. #27
    Senior Member Meaghan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huilunsoittaja View Post

    This is the way they are the same:

    Prokofiev and Shostakovich - creators of monsters and masterpieces, and most of all, shared a Russian composition style. Oh, and both needed glasses.
    And both sometimes irritated Stalin, but Shosty stressed about it more.

  17. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Couchie View Post
    Prokofiev. Shostakovich is a bit too goth/emo for me.
    I'm in a similar way, I prefer Prokofiev as he can be more optimistic, or at least not as depressing as Shostakovich. Of course, this is a blanket generalisation, I do not have exhaustive knowledge of either's output.*

    I can kind of more easily separate Sergei from politics, whereas in Dmitri the political subtext is often "in my face." Of course, Shostakovich was no political hack compared to guys like Ivan Dzerzhinsky, who composed the social-realist agitprop opera And Quiet Flows the Don (Stalin was a huge fan of these types of things, of course). I haven't heard this, only read about it, & I have absolutely no desire to hear this kind of stuff, even milder things like Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony due to it's strong elements of the banal don't work well with me (which Bartok also disliked & did a ****-take on in this in his Concerto for Orchestra).

    To be more positive, here are my big favourites from what I have heard so far of these two guys -

    Prokofiev
    - Violin Concertos, Piano Concertos (I've heard Nos. 1 & 5)
    - The 2 String Quartets are pretty good, interesting listening all round
    - Scythian Suite, although it's kind of a Rite of Spring "take-off" is nonetheless a highly sophisticated work
    - Symphonies 1, 3, 5 - esp. the last one for it's emotionally intense slow movement
    - The Love For Three Oranges - I've got the orchestral suite, the "wrong-note" march is pure joy, but the scene imaging the card game - where the cards come to life, methinks? - is amazing
    - Visions Fugitives - agreed, Air, this is great!

    Shostakovich
    - All symphonies I've heard (except the 7th) I've largely enjoyed, a highlight was hearing the 5th & 10th live last year - the piccolist goes all-out & is very busy during the 10th, I can tell you!!!
    - String Quartets - only know a few of the 15, all of which I've enjoyed
    - Film music - I've got his Odna (Alone) which is quite long but has some interesting moments (inlcuding theremin & overtone singing), the "Romance" from The Gadfly is one of the greatest tunes of the c20th.
    - The 2 cello concertos - especially the 2nd, some quite avant-garde sounding effects there, & love his arrangement of the popular Odessa street song, whether or not this was a kind of tribute to Khruschev, who (I think?) was from there or at least liked holidaying there like the other party big-wigs...

    *I've heard none of Prokofiev's operas or had much exposure to Shostakovich's solo piano output.

  18. #29
    Senior Member Meaghan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by znmeb View Post
    Film scores: Prokofiev by ten lengths - did Shostakovich write *any* memorable film scores?
    Memorable, I don't know, but he sure did churn out those communist propaganda film scores like sausages. I saw a little bit of one once - a happy couple was frolicking through a factory and then some old man gave them kittens. With almost unrecognizably cheery Shostakovich playing in the background.

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    We have to remember (to be fair) that Shostakovich was "persona non grata" from the "anti-formalist" decree in about 1948 till sometime after Stalin's death in 1953. He made his "bread and butter" from writing for films (later generations of composers in the USSR or it's territories would find themselves in a similar situation, Arvo Part and Sofia Gubaidulina all did dozens of films scores in their younger years just to "put food on the table" so to speak). Shostakovich wrote many works during the 1930's that were left "in the drawer" until well after Stalin's death (like the 1st violin concerto for David Oistrakh, subversively incorporating Jewish melodies, a clear protest against Stalin's undoubted anti-Semitism; Another one was the 4th symphony, which was supressed by the composer after the persecution instigated by the dicator surrounding the opera Lady Macbeth of Mtensk - the symphony survived only in the two-piano reduction and was later reorchestrated by the composer for it's first performance 25 years later in the early 1960's). Even the text of the Babi Yar symphony (composed 1960's) had to be watered down at the instigation of the censors, it's implied (or overt?) condemnation of anti-Semitism of any type was too close to the bone for the Soviet government...

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