Sergey Prokofiev

Symphony No. 4 in C major (second version), Op. 112

    Description by Blair Johnston

    Sergey Prokofiev undertook more than an ordinary revision when, in 1947, he decided to put his Symphony No. 4 in C major of 1929 - 1930 into new and better shape: what we have here is very close to a wholesale recomposition. The two versions in fact have completely different opus numbers (46 for the 1929 - 1930 version, 112 for the 1947 version). The Symphony No. 4, which was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra for performance during its 50th anniversary season (1930), grew from material rejected from other work. The original version is a charming, beautifully unpretentious work, and yet the fact that Prokofiev chose to reshape it shows that, to his mind at least, there was always something wrong with it (and also that it was a special work to him -- there were other instances in which he grew dissatisfied with earlier pieces but made no effort to redraft them). To line the two versions up side-by-side is to provide oneself with a unique study of the changes not only to Prokofiev's musical decision-making between 1929 and 1947 but also of his attitudes and even his character. The opportunity is not to be missed by fans of the composer.

    The four movements retain their original relationships to one another in the 1947 symphony, and, for the most part, their tempo indications as well. But the work is now a much longer one. The most sweeping changes are made in the opening Andante-Allegro energico movement (originally Andante assai-Allegro energico), which has actually doubled in length and is more densely scored. By comparison, the inner movements are little touched. The opening of the new version of the Allegro risoluto finale is particularly fascinating: what was a boisterous passage in string octaves is now a plodding, marchlike passage whose absolutely secco gestures (pizzicato now) are underlined by sharp strokes from the timpani and piano. And the symphony's conclusion is now massive rather than snappy -- a true epic peroration in what has surprisingly (given the poise and modesty of the original version) turned out to be quite an epic symphony.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Andante - Allegro eroico - Allegretto
    2. Andante tranquillo
    3. Moderato, quasi allegretto
    4. Allegro risoluto

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 BIS BIS 2134
    2016 Mariinsky MAR 0577
    2015 Onyx / Onyx Classics 4153
    2015 Capriccio Records C 7190
    2013 Naxos NBD 0038
    2013 Naxos 8573186
    2013 Entertainment Group 6109
    2011 Melodiya MELCD 1001797
    2008 Erato 69675
    2008 Chandos Classics 10500
    2008 Phoenix Edition 135
    2006 Philips 000632902
    2004 Naxos 8 509001
    2003 Warner Classics 0927-49147-2
    2003 Warner Classics 7496342
    2000 DG Deutsche Grammophon 463761
    1999 Marco Polo 8 553055
    1996 Supraphon 91
    1995 DG Deutsche Grammophon 431614
    1994 BIS 531
    1992 Chandos 8400
    1991 Chandos 8931
    1991 London 430782
    Melodiya 1000051
    Phoenix Edition 138