Allegrissimo - Andante assai, come prima
This Soviet-era sonata is Prokofiev’s best work for piano and violin. Prokofiev described the glassy scales in the violin at the ends of the outer movements as “wind passing through a graveyard”. The second movement recalls a Politburo interrogation, and the third movement offers a brief respite of night blooms before the fourth movement, which is a hoe-down.
Of all the composers on this program, Scriabin is perhaps the most attuned to mysticism. Before dying of a lip infection, he described his final work as a cataclysmic opus that would end the world. A proponent of synesthesia, the perception of color through sound, Scriabin developed his own harmonic language later in his career, although this fourth sonata remains relatively accessible harmonically. Though it does not possess world-ending powers, it does end with a sonic boom.
This rarely-played fugue for solo violin is a product of Schnittke’s student days and one of his earliest surviving works. Written in 1953, it was not found until after his death and did not receive a premiere until 1999.
Originally conceived as the slow movement to the violin concerto, the Méditation is the first and most substantial set of three pieces, the title of which refers to the estate of Tchaikovsky’s patroness Nadezhda von Meck. Tchaikovsky spent several weeks there recovering from a difficult separation from his wife before composing this piece.
Educated at Moscow Conservatory and steeped in jazz since his teenage years, Nikolai Kapustin writes music that might have been the love child of Rachmaninoff and Keith Jarrett. Though Kapustin’s music has finally been getting the attention it deserves the past decade or so, this rollicking sonata has never before been performed in the Bay Area.