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Prokofiev - Cello Sonata C-dur op.119

Prokofiev - Cello sonata op.119. You can download the PDF sheet music Prokofiev - Cello sonata op.119 on this page. The Cello Sonata in C major, Op. 119, was composed by Sergei Prokofiev in 1949. The Prokofiev' Cello Sonata was given a first, private performance by Mstislav Rostropovich and Sviatoslav Richter on 181'1 December 1949, with the public premiere taking place in the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatory on 1" March 1950. The Sonata appears timeless so much does the classicism of its construction and the Romantic inspiration make it the sister of those by Rachmaninov, Miaskovsky or Shostakovich as well as of Beethoven's Sonata in A major.

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PDF format sheet music


Cello part: 17 pages. 3351 K


Piano part: 51 pages. 9869 K


Instrument part - First page Piano part - First page
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In 1949, Prokofiev attended a concert in which Mstislav Rostropovich performed Nikolai Miaskovsky's Cello Sonata No. 2 in A minor, Op. 81.[1] Prokofiev was so impressed by Rostropovich's performance that he was determined to write a Cello Sonata for him. At the same time, Prokofiev wrote the symphonic suite Winter Bonfire, Op. 122, the ballet The Tale of the Stone Flower, Op. 118, and the Pushkin Waltzes, Op. 120. The Cello Sonata was published in Moscow in 1951.

The sonata is structured in three movements:

  • Andante grave
  • Moderato
  • Allegro, ma non troppo

A typical performance lasts for about 25 minutes.

The work was premiered on March 1, 1950 in the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatory with Rostropovich as soloist and with Sviatoslav Richter at the piano.

The Andante grave in C major, tranquil and expressive, begins piena voce on an imaginative, broad motif, tinged with a certain mystery (bars 1-12). A first pizzicato variation clarifies the framework. With the return of the bow (arco), there is a new lyrical surge that Rostropovich recommends playing on the sole low C-string. The following variations recapitulate these two melodic ideas. Ten more animated bars lead to un poco menu mosso in double stopping, ending on the high A-string. A repeat of the moderato animato introduces an andante of more dramatic expression, that the keyboard punctuates with arabesques in hemidemisemiquavers, unwinding over four octaves like a funeral veil, and concludes on two bars modulating from G flat to C sharp. Then the cello takes up its melody in a more serene mood, leading to a repeat of the initial theme, andante grave. A new allegro moderato episode in semiquavers once again enlivens the discourse before a more solemn piu mosso, in which is found the sarabande approach of the Baroque mood from the opening bars. The movement ends on rising cello arabesques, punctuated by keyboard chords that lead to a final fermata starting from the low C. The middle movement, Moderato (4/4), close to the traditional scherzo, is built on a naturally singing and dancing theme, presented by the cello in successive cells. Two other melodies, just as calm and cheerful, offer a series of portraits, seemingly amiable and serene, then with humour devoid of sarcasm. All these choreographic silhouettes come to life in complete innocence, leaving to the central trio, andante dolce, its languid, radiant expressionism that recalls the grace of Juliet moving about in the lightness engen-

dered by love. In this instant of profound lyricism are found the ingredients used by the most inimitable Prokofiev: large intervals, double stopping, tight, whimsical chromatic ascents, refined, slightly acid modulations... To this is added the velvety, bewitching sonority of the cello that here plays on its baritone register. The finale, Allegro ma non troppo (2/2), brings back the solemnity bordering on tranquillity of the initial Andante, even though the cello indulges itself in a few shifts on the C-string and several recitatives on the chanterelle. There follows a whole group of variations: andantino in 4/4, a first re-exposition of the opening theme, a poco a poco piü tranquillo passage, and finally a coda in which the theme of the initial Andante reappears, transposed and accompanied with humour and insouciance up to the veloce of the piano, the last transition before the final series of sextuplets descending to the low C pedal on the cello's open string. In point of fact, this Opus 119 is presented like a new "poem", with incessant changes of tempo and colour, that the performer must render in its spontaneity, imperious nobility and exquisite, languid lyricism.

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