Sergey Prokofiev

Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63

    Description by Michael Rodman

    The multicolored strands of influence -- personal and creative -- that converged on composer Sergei Prokofiev lent to his musical career a strange richness and duality. Prokofiev's musical development evolved in the constant shadow of multiple and often paradoxical circumstances. Raised and trained in the culture of waning imperial Russia, he would nonetheless emerge as one of the brightest stars in the Soviet Union's world of stringent artistic doctrines. Though hailed early on as a "bad boy" modernist, simplicity, urged by Soviet strictures, became Prokofiev's ultimate goal. Still, he steadfastly continued to employ those aspects -- novel and unexpected harmonic turns, melodic athleticism, and a prodigious handling of rhythm -- which from the outset marked the uniqueness of his style.

    The aspects of change and multiplicity in Prokofiev's music, both within individual works and in the larger scope of his evolving style, are in no place more in evidence than in the Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63 (1935). Indeed, the work took shape over the course of wide-ranging travels the composer undertook as part of his performing career. "Reflecting my nomadic concertizing existence," he wrote, "the Concerto was written in the most diverse countries: the main subject of the first movement was written in Paris, the first theme of the second movement -- in Voronezh, the instrumentation was completed in Baku, and the premiere took place in December of 1935 in Madrid." Undertaken (probably unbeknownst to the composer) as his final commission from a non-Soviet source, the Concerto already exhibits a particular attention to a less complicated -- though no less masterful -- handling of musical materials.

    The first movement, Allegro moderato, opens with a plaintive, five-beat motive in the solo violin which, even at this early stage, creates a sense of metric imbalance from having been placed into a 4/4 meter. It is spun into a full-fledged melody in G minor which pushes onward, eventually punctuated by episodes of abrupt changes in tonality, rhythmic impulse, and mood. The built-up energy and perfunctory close of the first movement is rapidly dissipated by the arrival of the second, Andante assai, which is characterized by a wistful and perhaps nostalgic, unpretentious and songlike theme in E flat major. The orchestra provides a gentle, harmonically unobtrusive accompaniment as the violin's theme is varied and developed -- and later, gear-shiftingly interrupted -- in the course of the movement. The roles are reversed in the final bars as a thematic fragment and its pizzicato accompaniment, now provided by the solo violin, recapture the initial mood as they fade into quiet. The final movement, Allegro, ben marcato, emerges in triple-metered dance-like gestures, at times with the genteel reserve of a waltz, at others with a more rustic, uninhibited character. Episodes of grotesquerie and dark comedy spring forth and propel the movement forward toward its steely con brio, tumultuous close.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro moderato
    2. Andante assai
    3. Allegro ben marcato

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Vinyl Passion Classical
    2017 Challenge Classics CC 72736
    2017 Orchid Classics ORC 100070
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4796220
    2016 Canary Classics CC 16
    2016 RCA Red Seal 88843095342
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 002894795882
    2016 Alto MCS 1318
    2016 BIS BIS 2142
    2016 Sony Classical 88875183382
    2016 RCA Red Seal 88875032242
    2015 Warner Classics 0825646129652
    2015 Onyx Classics ONYX 4142
    2015 Warner Classics 0825646129966
    2014 Simax PSC 1266
    2013 Entertainment Group 14157
    2013 Entertainment Group 14158
    2013 Naïve V 5352
    2013 Chandos CHAN 107872
    2013 Regis Records RRC 1396
    2012 Entertainment Group 4034
    2012 Supraphon SU 40822
    2012 Decca
    2012 Decca B 001746602
    2012 PentaTone Classics 5186395
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099967898
    2011 The Entertainment Group 1031
    2011 Naïve V 5256
    2011 Dynamic CDS676
    2010 Membran 233081
    2010 RCA Red Seal / Sony Classical 88697761382
    2009 Doremi Records 7951
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Decca / Eloquence 4800837
    2009 Chandos Classics 10540
    2009 Decca
    2009 Decca 4781149
    2008 Warner Classics
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099921471
    2008 Decca 4758208
    2008 EMI Classics
    2008 EMI Classics 2081182
    2008 EMI Classics 208278
    2008 Chandos 8709
    2008 EMI Classics 5628882
    2008 Teldec 2564697195
    2008 Warner Classics
    2008 Sony Classical Essential Classics 721741
    2008 Sony Classical Essential Classics 721742
    2007 Cembal d'amour 126
    2007 EMI Classics 81487
    2007 Deutsche Grammophon
    2007 Arte Nova 496870
    2007 Archipel 0298
    2007 EMI Classics
    2007 EMI Classics 00899
    2007 Elatus
    2007 Warner Classics 8570260
    2006 Brilliant 7614
    2006 Warner Classics
    2006 Warner Classics
    2006 Philips 4757457
    2006 Decca / Universal
    2006 Warner Classics 63263
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 EMI Classics 76862
    2005 Virgin Classics
    2005 Linn Records 219
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 Artek 20
    2005 EMI Classics 4768612
    2005 RCA Red Seal 66372
    2004 Naxos 8 509001
    2004 Arte Nova 49687
    2004 EMI Music Distribution 62889
    2004 Elatus 2564615722
    2003 Elatus 49567
    2003 Warner Classics 0927-49635-2
    2003 Warner Classics 0927-49147-2
    2003 EMI Music Distribution 85458
    2003 Capriccio Records 51135
    2003 EMI Classics
    2003 EMI Classics 85083
    2002 Harmonia Mundi 2905255/59
    2002 RCA 74321 87454-2
    2002 Decca 473 259-2DTR3
    2002 Testament 1224
    2002 Le Chant du Monde 288177
    2001 Cembal d'amour 115
    2001 JVC Compact Discs 10
    2001 Naxos 110942
    2000 Virgin 61633
    2000 Decca 466 996-2DL2
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 54454
    1998 Russian Revelation 10074
    1997 EMI Music Distribution 66605
    1997 Teldec 13150
    1997 Naxos 553494
    1997 RCA 68353
    1997 Point Classics 267161
    1997 Teldec 98255
    1996 EMI Music Distribution 69331
    1996 Deutsche Grammophon 447758
    1996 RCA Victor 61779
    1996 Sony Music Distribution 62339
    1995 Sony Music Distribution 67194
    1995 Erato 10696
    1995 RCA 61744
    1995 Pearl 9167
    1994 RCA 61454
    1994 Denon Records 75891
    1994 Sony Music Distribution 53969
    1993 Erato 91732
    1993 London 440331
    1993 EMI Music Distribution 64830
    1992 Delos 1018
    1992 Intersound / Pro-Arte Records 882
    1990 London 425003
    1990 Sony Classical 45956
    1989 CBS Records 38525
    1988 CBS Records 42439
    1987 CBS Records 42003
    1984 EMI Music Distribution 47025
    Prelude & Fugue 2148
    Fonit-Cetra Italia 2051
    BMG 0902661735
    Arlecchino 117
    Arlecchino 9
    Forlane 16616
    Deutsche Grammophon 410524
    EMI Music Distribution 62592
    Decca 475 6712DF2
    Philips 462592
    Pro-Arte Records 3442
    Rca Red Seal 57019
    RCA 60759
    New York Philharmonic