Visions Fugitives

Sergei Prokofiev
(April 23, 1891-March 5, 1953)

Visions Fugitives, Op. 22, are 20 short piano pieces composed by the Russian composer, Prokofiev between 1915 and 1917 – the year they were published a century ago. They were premiered by him on April 15, 1918 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Written individually, many were for specific friends of his, and he originally referred to them as his “doggies” because of their “bite.”

In August 1917, Prokofiev played them for Russian poet Konstantin Balmont, and others, at the home of a mutual friend. Balmont was inspired to compose a sonnet on the spot, called “a magnificent improvisation” by Prokofiev who named the pieces “Mimolyotnosti” from these lines in Balmont’s poem: “In every fleeting vision I see worlds, Filled with the fickle play of rainbows“. A French-speaking friend at the house, Kira Nikolayevna, immediately provided a French translation for the pieces: Visions Fugitives.

Here’s the music appreciation program I devised six years ago for my May 17, 2011 class, in which the composer himself plays 9 of the 20 fleeting visions in a 1935 recording:


Piano Works   Visions fugitives,Op. 22 (1915-1917)
       Sergei Prokofiev  piano
1. No. 9: Allegro Tranquillo
2. No. 3: Allegretto
3. No. 17: Poetico
4. No. 18: Con una dolce lentezza
5. No. 11: Con vivacità
6. No. 10: Ridicolosamente
7. No. 16: Dolente
8. No. 6: Con eleganza
9. No. 5: Molto giocoso

Note: Some of these pieces are technically interesting for their
unconventional harmonies and experiments with polytonal writing.
Of special interest is No. 16, which is noted for its pensive lyricism.

Symphony No. 1 in D, Op. 25 “Classical”
I Allegro  II Larghetto  III Gavotta: Non troppo allegro
IV Finale: Molto vivace

ames Gardner conductor  Pro Arte Symphony Orchestra

Etude, Op. 2, No. 3      Nikolai Petrov piano ________________________________________________________________

Wikipedia; Encyclopedia of Concert Music by David Ewen

As a 17-year-old, I was first introduced to Prokofiev’s piano music when I picked up a score of his Prelude in C major, Op. 12, No. 7 from a Boosey & Hawkes music store in the UK Capital during the London Musical Festival’s Piano Concerto Competition there in which I participated by performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto in C minor, Op. 37. To put it mildly, I was hooked by the Russian’s compositions and went on to acquire on a visit to Washington, D.C. in December 1961 Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto along with three of his piano sonatas – Nos. 4, 7 and 9. For the record I was representing India in the Dmitri Mitropolous International Piano Competition at New York’s Carnegie Hall on my very first visit to the United States after which I paid a side visit to the U.S. Capital before returning to India.

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