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I just finished listening to the Prokofiev 2 concerto and wanted to see where you had ranked it, as to my ears it sounded ridiculously, fiendishly difficult. There is this part:



... where I wondered how on earth he expected anyone to play that. I question whether he could even play it himself. Anyway, the biggest challenge, I expect, would be endurance. The first movement cadenza alone is just relentless. It doesn't let up for a second. Anyway, in addition to being insanely difficult, it's a beautiful, uniquely dark work. I gained a lot of respect for Prokofiev when I heard it for the first time.

I see you've ranked Barber (among others) in a tier above this one. Really, the Barber? It's a beautiful concerto, but it doesn't sound more difficult than the Prokofiev 2, to my ears anyway.
 

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Um, . . . you may be thinking of only the 1st movement of the Moonlight Sonata [Actually the Piano Sonata No.14 "Quasi Una Fantasia" Opus 27 No.2]. (Don't be embarassed, it's a common misconception that the 1st movement is the whole thing.) That's the placid, calm, reflective, moody movement. But there are three movements to this sonata, per the custom of the day.

The second movement 'presto agitato' is sort of like "filler". Inconsequential. A brief respite between the moodiness of the 1st and the stürm und drang of the 3rd. Flippant, nonchalant. Deceptive . . . a false throwback to a simpler time.

The third movement is like a storm trying to blow your house down. It drops on you like a bomb exploding, blowing the 2nd movement out of the water. It is unrelenting, going on for over six minutes of unforgiving patterns in both hands.

Time for you to have a listen to the whole thing . . . . , in context. You'll absolutely love it.

David is an older guy, has been listening to classical music for decades, and has been a contributor here for the better part of a decade, and his avatar is a picture of Beethoven. He certainly knows that the Moonlight Sonata has three movements, and I'm sure he was factoring in all three when he wrote that. I initially read your post as very condescending but it appears your heart was in the right place.

Anyway, I would like to echo his sentiment: the Moonlight Sonata doesn't provide any serious challenges of a virtuoso nature, in any of the three movements. It's fast, sure, but it's all scales and arpeggios. I'm sure I could learn it myself with my modest skills within the space of a few months.

Also, on an unrelated note, I disagree with your flippant dismissal of the second movement, it's my favorite of the three!
 

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Both are extremely difficult and I would not be surprised if they are actually closer in difficulty than I originally presumed. However from what I have played from it, it is more awkward than the Prokofiev- which, despite it's huge flourishes is actually mostly pianistic. The Barber is also a less tonal which probably makes it harder to learn and memorize.

Additionally, it is reported that Horowitz considered the Barber concerto to be impossible...
What I had heard is that Horowitz told Barber that it was impossible, and that he rewrote it to be significantly easier. But perhaps I am remembering it wrong. In any case I'll have to listen with score in hand. It's definitely a towering and beautiful concerto that pianists should play more, but maybe they do not due to its difficulty.
 
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