Here are two of the artists you’ll be hearing on our fall Heifetz On Tour programs in a performance from the 2015 Heifetz Institute “Festival of Concerts:” Cellist Mo Mo and pianist Carlos Avila play the first movement of Sergei Prokofiev‘s Sonata for Cello and Piano in C, Op. 119.
This piece work was first performed on March 1, 1950 at the Moscow Conservatory, with the great cellist Mstislav Rostropovich as soloist (for whom Prokofiev had written the piece) and Sviatoslav Richter playing the piano. In his memoirs, Richter recounted that it actually was not the first performance:
We gave the first performance of Prokofiev’s Cello Sonata. Before playing it in concert, we had to perform it at the Composer’s Union, where these gentlemen decided the fate of all new works. During this period more than any other, they needed to work out whether Prokofiev had produced a new masterpiece or, conversely, a piece that was ‘hostile to the spirit of the people.’ Three months later, we had to play it again at a plenary session of all the composers who sat on the Radio Committee, and it wasn’t until the following year that we were able to perform it in public, in the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatory on March 1, 1950.
Meanwhile, Russian composer Nikolai Miaskovsky, whose 1948 Cello Sonata No. 2 had inspired Prokofiev to write a cello sonata in the first place, wrote in his diary: “Yesterday Rostropovich and Richter openly played the Cello Sonata by Prokofiev in concert – a miraculous piece of music!”