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Prokofiev - Symphony – Concerto for cello op.125

Prokofiev - Symphony – Concert for cello. You can download the PDF sheet music Prokofiev - Symphony – Concert for cello on this page. Sergei Prokofiev's Symphony-Concerto in E minor, Op. 125 (sometimes referred to as Sinfonia Concertante) is a large-scale work for cello and orchestra. Prokofiev dedicated it to Mstislav Rostropovich, who premiered it on February 18, 1952 with Sviatoslav Richter conducting (the only instance of Richter conducting).
Prokofiev began his first Cello Concerto, Opus 125, in 1934 and eventually completed the work in 1938, after his definitive return to Russia. It was performed in Moscow by the cellist Lucian Beryezovsky and the State Symphony Orchestra on 26th November 1938 and was immediately condemned by the critics. The Symphony-Concerto, a more accurate translation of the Russian title and clearer indication of the nature of the work, combines two elements in Prokofiev's music, the astringent, as evident in his earlier career, and the newer, simpler lyrical aspect.

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PDF format sheet music


Cello part: 30 pages. 5812 K


Piano part: 78 pages. 15213 K


Instrument part - First page Piano part - First page
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After the first performance (under the title 'Cello Concerto No. 2'), this Prokofiev's composition was revised and given its current title. It is itself a revised version of his earlier Cello Concerto, Op. 58, written in 1933–8.
The work was written and revised mostly in 1950 and 1951, a period when Prokofiev was in declining health and official disfavor for formalism. One of his final completed works, it is about 40 minutes long in three movements:
  • Andante (11 minutes)
  • Allegro (18 minutes)
  • Andante con moto – Allegretto – Allegro marcato (11 minutes)

For a long time, the Symphony-Concerto was considered unplayable. Even though many cellists today are now able to play it, it still remains a formidable challenge for any musician.
The premiere of Prokofiev's Cello Concerto (Op. 58) was generally thought to have been very poorly interpreted by the cellist, though the blame fell on Prokofiev for writing a "soul-less" concerto. The concerto was seldom played afterwards, until Prokofiev heard Rostropovich play it at a 1947 concert at the Moscow Conservatory. The performance reawakened Prokofiev's interest in the cello, and he rewrote his concerto (with advice from Rostropovich) to create the Symphony-Concerto (Op. 125). Also dating from this period are his cello sonata of 1949, and an unfinished concertino for cello and orchestra, later completed by Kabalevsky.


Beryezovsky had worked on the concerto with Sviatoslav Richter, who felt that he had no understanding of it and later described the first performance as an utter failure. Prokofiev withdrew the work, his failure alleviated by the popular, critical and political success of his music for Eisenstein's film Alexander Nevsky. It was not until 1947 that the concerto was revived by the twenty-year-old Mstislav Rostropovich, in the Small Hall of Moscow Conservatory, in a version for cello and piano. Prokofiev was impressed by the performance and promised that he would rewrite the work for the young cellist. The support of Rostropovich was particularly valuable to Prokofiev at this time, after the official condemnation of 1948. First, in 1949, he wrote a Cello Sonata for Rostropovich, given its successful first performance the following year. Now the concerto itself was revised, with the collaboration of Rostropovich, who spent much time staying with Prokofiev and his second wife, Mira Mendelson, at their dacha at Nikolina Gora. The result of the revision was at first called the Second Cello Concerto, only to be further revised, to take its present shape as the Sinfonia Concertante, Opus 125, and to receive its first performance on 18th February 1952. It became a favourite with Shostakovich, who was strongly influenced by it in his own First Cello Concerto.

The cello assumes immediate prominence in the first movement, the bold march of the opening contrasted with a later theme based on a descending contour, introduced by the orchestra. The heart of the work is the Allegro giusto, an extended movement calling for great virtuosity into which the cello at once launches itself, with that motor rhythm that is such a feature of Prokofiev's writing. There is an essentially lyrical heart to the movement, harshly interrupted, before a cadenza, leading to rapid near-perpetual motion, an episode of casual insouciance, moments of more sinister implication, brutal percussion interpolations and passages of intense activity. These are in contrast to the relatively simple song that introduces the final Andante con moto, which is in the form of a theme and variations, with cadenza-like passages that call for great technical command on the part of the soloist, suggestions of a waltz, which turns into something cynically ominous. Moods change, as the movement continues, at one moment tranquil, at another expressing intense melancholy. The trumpet introduces the final moments, in which the cello ascends to the heights, with a passage of rapid harmonics.

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