After an intermission for this Sunday’s Performance, Julia Pautz and Kathryn Eberle return to the stage (accompanied by Dr. Maimy Fong at the piano) to perform the Prokofiev Sonata for 2 Violins.
From the memoirs of Sergei Prokofiev (1891–1953)
A society called the “Triton” had been formed in Paris for the performance of new chamber music. Honegger, Milhaud, Poulenc, myself and others joined it. Listening to bad music sometimes inspires good ideas. ‘That’s not the way to do it,’ one tells oneself, ‘it should be done this way.’ That is how I happened to write my sonata for two violins.
After once hearing an unsuccessful piece for two violins without piano accompaniment, it struck me that in spite of the apparent limitations of such a duet, one could make it interesting enough to listen to for ten or fifteen minutes without tiring. The sonata was performed at the official opening of the “Triton” on December 16, 1932, which chanced to coincide with the premiere of my [new] ballet.
Fortunately the ballet came on half an hour later, and so immediately after the sonata we dashed over to the Grand Opéra—musicians, critics, author all together.
Before rushing off to the evening’s flashy conclusion the simplicity and ingenuity of Prokofiev’s sonata should be noted: simplicity found in haunting and ephemeral themes found in movements one and three, and ingenuity in its generating of momentum by the juxtaposition of aggressive motifs and virtuosity in headlong fast passages in the second and fourth movements.
In this sonata one plus one equals a symphony of diverse sounds. More than any other piece on the program the violins unite as a team of rivals, at times as boxers weaving in and out, as siblings interrupting and challenging each other, or as atoms uniting to create an infinitely more complex molecule.