Sergey Prokofiev

Piano Sonata No. 6 in A major ("War Sonata 1"), Op. 82

    Description by Robert Cummings

    There are many who assert this is the jewel of the so-called "War Sonata" trilogy. While the Seventh has been more popular over the years, the Sixth is more epic and dramatic, bigger and deeper in expressive range, and more dynamic and colorful. With the possible exception of the Eighth, it is arguably Prokofiev's greatest piano sonata.

    The first of its four movements is marked Allegro moderato and begins with a powerful motif, or motto, built largely around a rhythmic four-note pattern that insistently repeats. Each hand is playing in a different key here -- A major and A minor -- thus setting the stage for the notion of conflict that dominates the work. An alternate theme brings serenity for a time, but in the development section, it is drawn into the warring atmosphere by the angry opening motto. Here the sense of terror is heightened as powerful dissonances (some chords are played col pugno -- with the fist) seem to crush everything in sight. The reprise is considerably abridged and filled with apprehension, and the movement ends in a mood of ambivalence with an abrupt statement of the motto.

    The second movement (Allegretto) is lighter and dance-like, and even contains humor in its jaunty music. Still, its mysterious middle section features an undercurrent of tension and the movement on the whole hardly comes across as joyous or sunny. The succeeding panel is a slow waltz (Tempo di valzer lentissimo) of fragile, touching beauty in the outer sections. The interior is stormy and finally erupts, first violently, then with a passionate outpouring before fading back into the lovely waltz theme.

    The finale (Vivace) is chock full of striking themes: it begins with a typically lively Prokofievian creation, whose rhythmic, percussive character brims with headlong drive. A calmer, somewhat playful theme follows immediately, and soon two more themes are heard in rapid succession, the first motoric and frenzied, the second humorous and playful and conveying a sense of mocking laughter. The middle section recalls the motto from the opening movement, but with its first note missing. Themes are reprised and the work concludes with a powerful coda, wherein the motto, transformed and abbreviated, is hammered out violently amid swirls of harried notes, and then played in full in rapid, stammer-like descending chords to proclaim a most crushing triumph.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro moderato
    2. Allegretto
    3. Tempo di valzer lentissimo
    4. Vivace

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Warner Classics 566894
    2018 Warner Classics 566894
    2018 Farao Classics B 108099
    2017 Harmonia Mundi HMC 902202
    2017 Sorel Classics SCCD 007/8/9
    2017 Sony Classical 88985395212
    2017 Melodiya MELCD 1002464
    2017 Symphonia ERM 1013
    2016 Sony Classical / Sony Music Distribution 88875032272
    2016 Somm SOMM 259
    2015 Danacord DACOCD 761
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4794350
    2015 RCA Red Seal / Sony Classical 88875127202
    2015 Centaur Records CRC 3406
    2015 Cedille Records CDR 153
    2015 Sony Classical 88843014702
    2014 Three Oranges Recordings 3OR 15
    2014 Three Oranges Recordings
    2014 Nimbus Alliance NI 6267
    2014 Zig Zag Territoires ZZT 346
    2013 Entertainment Group 14152
    2013 Champs Hill Records CHRCD 064
    2013 Decca
    2013 Decca 4785429
    2013 Onyx Classics ONYX 4111
    2012 Entertainment Group 12005
    2012 Decca 4783301
    2012 Phaia Music PHU 008
    2012 Orchid Classics ORC 100023
    2011 Ondine 11032Q
    2011 Entertainment Group 1217
    2011 Brilliant Classics 9243
    2011 Northern Flowers NF/PMA 9985
    2010 Avi-Music / CAvi-music 8553174
    2010 Pierian 41
    2010 Preiser Records 90769
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Testament 1445
    2009 Opening Day Recordings 9316
    2009 Archipel 0465
    2009 EMI Classics 6955902
    2009 EMI Classics
    2009 2L 21
    2009 Bridge 9298
    2008 Urania 353
    2007 Brilliant Classics 8528
    2007 Decca 000794902
    2007 Kultur 4189
    2006 VAI Audio 1256
    2006 Centaur Records 2770
    2006 VAI Audio 1257
    2006 Lyra House 1003
    2006 Arte Nova 944070
    2006 Doremi Records 78649
    2004 Warner Classics 2564 61255-2
    2004 Praga 50015
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 463 678-2GOR
    2003 BIS 1260
    2003 Brilliant 6137
    2003 Naxos 8555030
    2002 Naïve V 4898
    2002 EMI Music Distribution 575202
    2002 Parnassus Records 96013/4
    2001 Pierian 0007/0008/0009
    2001 Harmonia Mundi 2907301/10
    2001 RCA 63844
    2000 Olympia (Classical/Jazz) 280
    1999 Philips 456871
    1999 Philips 454987
    1999 Olympia (Classical/Jazz) 705
    1999 Ondine 947
    1999 Arabesque 6722
    1999 Philips 438627
    1999 Danacord 391
    1999 Aura Records 127
    1998 Deutsche Grammophon 459045
    1998 Deutsche Grammophon 459 070-2GCC11
    1998 Chandos 9637
    1998 Philips 456946
    1998 Praga 256002
    1997 Leningrad Masters 1324
    1997 Calliope 9606
    1996 Harmonia Mundi 907198
    1995 Chandos 9361
    1995 Masters of Art 9379
    1994 Vox 3500
    1994 Sony Classical 52484
    1994 Philips 442464
    1994 BIS 155
    1993 Praga 250015
    1993 Olympia (Classical/Jazz) 257
    1993 Centaur Records 2064
    1991 Harmonia Mundi 907086
    1991 ASV 314
    1991 ASV 754
    1990 RCA Victor Red Seal 60443
    1990 RCA 7941
    1990 Columbia / Sony Music Distribution 45931
    1984 Deutsche Grammophon 413363
    Labor Records
    Hyun Michelle Kim
    Robert Edward Thies
    Performance 8
    Newport Classic 60093
    Warner Music
    Ondine 761
    Partridge 1127
    Elan Recordings 2242
    Russian Revelation 10094
    Art & Electronics 68019
    Decca 444408
    EMI Classics 54281
    Brilliant 6137/5
    Melodiya 1000207
    Memoria 001
    Memoria 991001
    Originals 849
    Panton Records 0486
    Ermitage 000
    Olympia (Classical/Jazz) 350
    Brilliant Classics 8528/5
    Protone Records 1110