Between the composition of the second and third piano sonatas (1912-1917) Prokofieff wrote a variety of works for a great diversity of instruments. Besides ‘Visions Fugitives’ these include the ballets ‘Chout’ and ‘The Gambler’ the Classical Symphony the first Violin Concerto the second Piano Concerto and various songs. This was an immensely productive period during which his obsession with percussive sounds coloured by polytonality was at its height (although the Classical Symphony is an obvious exception). ‘Visions Fugitives’ is generally less diatonically based than any of the piano sonatas although the style is perhaps closet to the harmonic quirkiness of the Fifth Sonata (1923). Prokofieff’s compositional process habitually involved the jotting down of musical ideas as they occured to him to be combined later. The composer’s form of spontaneous inspiration seems to have enabled him to produce in ‘Visions Fugitives’ a set of self-contained miniatures perfectly shaped and coherent yet comprising a logical sequence when played as a whole. The simplicity and transparency of the writing gives us an insight into the interpretation of Prokofieff’s music generally. The study of his shorter works enables us to understand the importance of clarity and rhythmic discipline in the performance of the later ones. The necessity for these qualities is immediately apparent in ‘Visions Fugitives’.
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