PROKOFIEV Sergei, Quintet in G minor
Tema con variazioni
Allegro sostenuto, ma con brio
Allegro precipitato, ma non troppo presto
Prokofiev’s Quintet Op.39 of 1924 incorporates music from Trapeze, a ballet he composed at the same time. Written while Prokofiev was living in Paris for a company that could only afford a small instrumental ensemble, the original ballet comprised eight movements of which six were used in the Quintet. The language is often astringent but Prokofiev is highly imaginative in the way he uses limited resources to the fullest possible effect. After a Theme and Variations that moves from a deadpan opening to frenetic energy before returning to the music of the start, the second movement opens with a double bass solo before some rather acidic writing for the whole ensemble. The short Allegro sostenuto, ma con brio is a witty scherzo-type movement that is followed by the darkest part of the Quintet, a brooding Adagio pesante notable for some unusual instrumental colours including sul ponticello string writing. The Allegro precipitato is another brilliant, highly animated exploration of intriguing sonorities, while the concluding Andante is more stately to begin with, becoming a little livelier in the central section, and ending vigorously, with the parts marked tumultuoso e precipitato.