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Hyperion Records

Click cover art to view larger version
Moscow by John Bratby (1928-1992)
Private Collection / Photo © Christie's Images / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67896
Recording details: December 2011
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: February 2013
Total duration: 19 minutes 36 seconds

Visions fugitives, Op 22

Lentamente  [1'01]
Andante  [1'10]
Allegretto  [0'47]
Animato  [0'58]
Molto giocoso  [0'23]
Con eleganza  [0'24]
Pittoresco  [1'47]
Comodo  [0'57]
Ridicolosamente  [0'48]
Con vivacità  [1'08]
Assai moderato  [0'54]
Allegretto  [0'29]
Feroce  [0'55]
Inquieto  [0'51]
Dolente  [1'23]
Poetico  [0'58]
Lento  [1'48]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
For composers from Schubert to the present day the attractions of the piano miniature have been broadly similar. It has a better-than-average chance of being taken up by young or amateur players; it therefore stands a better-than-average chance of being published; for the composer-performer it fits snugly into recital programmes, where it may serve as an advertisement for and introduction to other compositions; and it may provide a useful testing-ground for compositional ideas, prior to their potential deployment in more demanding large-scale forms.

In their various contrasting ways, the twenty miniatures that make up Prokofiev’s Visions fugitives display all those qualities, and they have always been among the most popular of his piano pieces. The title of the collection is a poetic rendering of the Russian Mimolyotnosti (literally ‘things flying past’, or more pretentiously ‘transiences’) from the poem ‘I do not know wisdom’ by the symbolist Konstantin Balmont. Taking his cue from the lines ‘In every fugitive vision / I see whole worlds: / They change endlessly, / Flashing in playful rainbow colours’, Prokofiev supplies snapshots of his most characteristic moods—sometimes grotesque, sometimes incantatory and mystical, sometimes simply poetic, sometimes aggressively assertive, sometimes so delicately poised as to allow the performer and the listener to make up their own minds.

The Visions were assembled between 1915 and 1917. In his 1941 autobiography Prokofiev claimed that No 19 reflected the excitement of the crowds at the time of the February 1917 Revolution (which deposed the tsar—the more famous ‘October’ Revolution, establishing Bolshevik rule, followed later the same year). But that claim may be a case of self-reinvention aimed at a Soviet readership. Without that information, the same could as easily be said of Nos 4, 14 and 15. In 1935 Prokofiev made recordings of ten pieces from the set, and his playing is notable for its wistfulness, subtle shadings and—in places—rhythmic freedom. Even the clowning of the Ridicolosamente No 10 is rather shy in Prokofiev’s hands, and the delicacy he brings to the following piece brings out its affinities with Debussy’s Minstrels.

from notes by David Fanning © 2013

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