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  • Bryan Kim

Prokofiev Violin Concerto No.1

Emerging from a faint shimmer of strings, a simple, yet beautiful melody opens the first movement of the Prokofiev Violin Concerto. The airy solo violin indulges in wisps of narrow vibrato, filling the atmosphere with a sense of quiet, intimate passion. The piece beckons the listener into a sognando, or “dreamy,” trance, bringing forth memories of simple and innocent love. Entranced by the beauty of the piece, the listener is unaware of the awaiting monstrosity. Dissonant harmonies and jarring accents suddenly plague the cellos and double basses, rapidly corrupting the other orchestral sections until even the solo violin is violently mutilated. The piece is disfigured and warped until it becomes a hideous, monstrous creation. Chords resembling roaring lightning and crashing ocean waves ravage through the once-beautiful barren melodies, until suddenly, all havoc stops. A faint shimmer of strings lulls the listener into the dreamy trance again, as a flute plays the opening theme. The solo violin quietly accompanies the flute as the piece fades away...

24-year-old Sergei Prokofiev wrote his first violin concerto while deeply in love with Nina Meshcherskaya, a married poet and author. Although the two had occasional affairs, Prokofiev began to realize that he would never gain Nina's undivided affection and wrote this piece as an outlet for his romantic and sexual frustrations—the horrible thoughts and ideas that would plunder his music and mind and then, like the flame of a burning match, seemingly dissipate into thin air. Written in just one year by a man madly in unrequited love, Prokofiev's first violin concerto is a raw, untamed, grotesque reminder of what it truly means to be in a one-sided love.


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