Classical music blogger Jessica Duchen yesterday featured a bit of video/audio of the great Grigory Sokolov playing the wonderfully manic third and last movement of Prokofiev’s Seventh Piano Sonata, which is marked Precipitato. I have a DVD of Sokolov playing this, plus some Beethoven, and I assume this clip is from that. (The Beethoven on that DVD is also marvelous. I’ve never heard the somewhat poor relation Op. 14 numbers 1 and 2 sonatas sound better. Or, maybe I’ve just never listened properly before, and this DVD of Big Bear Sokolov finally got me doing that. Don’t know, don’t care.)
To succeed, music has to have at least one of: melody, harmony and rhythm. Too much twentieth century classical type music scores zero out of three, and hence will never be widely liked. This Prokofiev movement scores a thunderously successful ten out of ten (to switch marking systems) in the rhythm department, and does pretty well on the other two as well, I think. (Which, come to think of it, is a description that applies pretty well to Prokofiev’s entire output.) Do have a listen/look if you’ve not heard this piece and enjoy white hot piano playing. It is about four minutes long, with lots of understandably noisy clapping at the end that you can ignore.
It helps that this is the kind of music that, I think, easily survives cheap computer-type speakers.