Friday 4 May, 2018 11.59pm
‘Visions Fugitives – Prokofiev’ 2018
Just home. An utterly amazing afternoon and evening. I was asked to produce a recording of Visions Fugitives, a series of 20 miniatures for piano by Prokofiev.
Prokofiev has been one of my favourite composers for as long as I can remember. Certainly, since my late-teens and early-twenties, preceded by Bartok, Stravinsky, Mozart and a few others. As my comprehension of music, harmony and dissonance, develop,d Prokofiev crept up the list. So did, Tchaikovsky, interestingly.
Almost ten years of attending every performance by the SSO (with very few exceptions, and often more than once) and recording Mahler, Elgar, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev, pushed me towards a greater appreciation of music than I had before that life-changing experience of working with Ashkenazy and dozens of other extraordinary musicians. That culminated tonight in producing a recording of a musical work which was written for one instrument – which is something I’ve only done once before, with Ashkenazy’s Rare Rachmaninoff CD – Prokofiev’s Visions Fugitives. It’s the other extreme than recording Mahler Symphony No. 8.
As an eighteen-year old I played one of these Prokofiev miniatures for my 8th Grade piano examination and I also learned a second one before choosing my final pieces.
Thirty-seven years later I was sent the manuscript for all twenty miniatures so that I could prepare for this recording. I played most of them through as I prepared for this recording session, familiarizing myself. Firstly, I was staggered that I could sight-read them so well – still badly – as I haven’t played the piano seriously for decades. Secondly, I was charmed by their effervescent brilliance and invention. Thirdly, I was overwhelmed by their (often) dissonant beauty and the musicianship of Maria as she performed them.
Then as her husband, Maria and I had drinks after the session, it was the most beautiful end to the most beautiful day in recent memory.