Sergey Prokofiev

Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26

    Description by Alexander Carpenter

    For his third concerto for piano and orchestra, Prokofiev looked to the past for inspiration: this concerto incorporates material derived from sketches made between 1911 and 1918. The first movement contains two themes that were written in 1916, plus a chordal passage first sketched in 1911; the second movement contains a theme and variations that was written in 1913, while the final movement uses thematic material from a discarded string quartet begun in 1918. When he began composing this concerto during a holiday in Brittany, Prokofiev wrote, "I already had all the thematic material I needed except for the third theme of the finale and the subordinate theme of the first movement." The Third Piano Concerto is perhaps Prokofiev's best known essay in this genre, and approaches Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov in popularity and frequency of performance. Its opus number places it just after the "Classical" First Symphony of 1917, and the concerto is, in its way, similar to the First Symphony is a number of ways: both works are lively, acerbic, with brilliant orchestration and a certain transparent texture. Both pieces are also clearly the work of a deft young composer of considerable technical skill; however, the two works differ greatly in regards to their reception. The "Classical" Symphony was reasonably well received in Russia, where it was performed only once before Prokofiev emigrated to the United States. Subsequent performances of the symphony in America were very successful. The Third Concerto, on the other hand, did not fare so well, and after a good premiere in Chicago (along with the opera Love for Three Oranges) in 1921, the work was roundly denounced in New York.

    The concerto displays much of the "harmonic liveliness," in Nancy Siff's words, of the mid-period symphonies, with its sudden shifts from key to key and chromatic harmony. The sophistication and bravura generally associated with Prokofiev's music is ever present, as is the humor found in many of his orchestral works. The concerto is in a traditional three-movement concerto form (the only one of Prokofiev's five piano concertos to use the traditional form), beginning and ending with fast movements that flank a slow middle movement. Each movement is about the same length, and the thematic weight and interest is distributed evenly throughout the movements. The work begins with a vivacious opening movement, which includes a humorous march underlined by castanets, followed by the five variations of the second movement, and concludes with a grandiose display of colorful harmonies and virtuosic orchestration. The solo writing for the piano is also virtuosic, and at times quite percussive.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Andante - Allegro
    2. Theme and Variations. Andantino
    3. Allegro, ma non troppo

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Onyx / Onyx Classics ONYX 4140
    2016 IBA [Idil Biret Archives] / Naxos 8501504
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon B002436502
    2016 Ondine ODE 124442
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4795448
    2015 Melodiya MELCD 1002349
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4794155
    2015 Doremi Records DHR 8030
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon B002364402
    2015 Radio France FRF 02027
    2015 Hyperion CDH 55440
    2014 ABC Classics 4811323
    2014 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186510
    2014 Mariinsky MAR 0549
    2014 Rewind REW 509
    2014 Chandos CHAN 108022
    2014 ABC Classics 4811322
    2014 Melodiya MELCD 1002227
    2014 Phaia Music PHU 044
    2014 Decca 4785360
    2014 Decca
    2013 Entertainment Group 14152
    2013 Naïve AM 210
    2013 Sony Classical 8888373226
    2013 Sony Classical 8888373225
    2013 Doron Music DRC 3061
    2013 RCA Red Seal / Sony Classical 88725462392
    2013 Decca 4785093
    2012 EMI Classics
    2012 EMI Classics 5099967908
    2012 Entertainment Group 12005
    2012 Naxos 8501056
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon 4779884
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon
    2012 Decca / Mercury Living Presence 001653302
    2012 Melodiya MELCD 1002000
    2012 Decca / Deutsche Grammophon / Universal
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon 4790369
    2012 Audiophile Classics APL 101802
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099909403
    2011 ABC Classics ABC 4764331
    2011 Decca
    2011 Triton 47
    2011 Brilliant Classics 9243
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 BIS 1820
    2009 ABC Classics 4766960
    2009 Deutsche Grammophon
    2009 Deutsche Grammophon 477 812-4
    2009 Membran 231755
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099926453
    2009 Decca / Eloquence 4800837
    2008 Music & Arts 990
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099921757
    2008 Telarc Distribution 80739
    2008 Warner Classics
    2008 EMI Classics
    2008 Music & Arts MACD1214
    2007 Brilliant Classics 8528
    2007 Sony Classical Essential Classics 721081
    2007 Apex
    2007 Vista Vera 97012
    2006 Decca
    2006 Decca 4757221
    2006 Deutsche Grammophon
    2006 Warner Classics
    2006 Sony Music Distribution 78743
    2006 Rhino
    2006 Universal Classics & Jazz
    2005 Danacord 584-585
    2005 Mercury 4756607
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 Fuga Libera 505
    2005 RCA Red Seal 82876 67894-2
    2004 EMI Music Distribution 585837-2
    2004 Deutsche Grammophon 000290436
    2004 Naxos 8 509001
    2003 Tim 220828
    2003 Warner Classics 0927-49635-2
    2003 Warner Classics 0927-49147-2
    2003 Testament 1300
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 471576
    2003 Moscow Studio Archives 18912
    2003 EMI Classics
    2003 Telarc Distribution 80124
    2002 ASV PLT8516
    2002 Decca 473 259-2DTR3
    2002 RCA / RCA Victor 62691
    2001 Naxos Historical 8110673
    2001 Erato 21038
    2001 Chandos 9913
    2000 Rca Red Seal 902668993
    2000 Music & Arts 4769
    2000 Deutsche Grammophon 469 172-2GP2
    2000 Sonora 22590
    2000 Dutton Laboratories 9706
    2000 Angel Records 67312
    2000 Music & Arts 4990
    1999 Philips 456850
    1999 Philips 456871
    1999 Philips 462232
    1999 Philips 454987
    1999 Philips 456859
    1999 Delos DE3710
    1999 Philips 456853
    1998 Philips 456700
    1998 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243556654
    1998 Philips 462048
    1998 Point Classics 2672132
    1998 RCA Red Seal 902668442
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 453567
    1997 London 452588
    1996 Hyperion 66858
    1996 Elan Recordings 2220
    1996 Deutsche Grammophon 447438
    1994 Delos 3155
    1994 Mercury 434333
    1994 Deutsche Grammophon 439898
    1994 Naxos 550566
    1993 Sony Classical 52483
    1993 Genesis Records GCD 104
    1993 Music & Arts 769
    1993 Olympia (Classical/Jazz) 191
    1992 EMI Classics 62542
    1992 Chandos 8889
    1992 Chandos 8938
    1991 ASV CDDCA786
    1990 RCA Victor Red Seal 60567
    1990 CBS Records 37806
    1990 RCA 6209
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon 4150622
    1989 London 425570
    1989 RCA Victor Red Seal 60051
    Panton Records 1216
    As Disc 512
    Round Top Records 2
    Round Top Records 002
    The Piano Library 314
    RCA 60921
    RPO 5001
    Tim 220832
    Disques Montaigne 1988
    Naxos 110670
    Pearl GEMMCD9470
    Panton Records 811216
    London 411969
    Ensayo 3437
    Intaglio 718
    Vox 8168
    Opus 111 2635
    Manchester 124
    Testament 1376
    Artists 49
    EMI Music Distribution 65923
    Seraphim UK 69131
    Teldec 73257
    Pro-Arte Records 3463
    Deutsche Grammophon 453277
    Brilliant Classics 8528/5