There is an opinion that Prokofiev's compositions distinctly deteriorated after his return in 1936 from the West to the USSR , where he was subject to strong political pressure. Stravinsky stated that Prokofiev decided to return because he was politically naïve and also because he had not met with all that much success in America: "Prokofiev's return to Russia", he said, "was a sacrifice to the bitch goddess." However, the compositions of Prokofiev's certainly has not lost its value. His Piano Sonata No. 9 op.103 written in 1947, is one of many proofs.
The music of the 9th Piano Sonata requires from the listener an active perception or in other words complete concentration and attention . Prokofiev composed this Sonata with a deep vision of moods.
The main theme of the first movement is somehow idyllic, perhaps inspired by the composer's life in a countryside, away from the city hustle and bustle. It is elegantly cut and restrained, bright and clear, set up without any modernistic tricks. Almost the whole movement is imbued with a clear serenity. Subtle melodic threads stretch across this movement and its textured woven fabric is subtle and full of beautiful and very economical combination of voices
The second movement is like cut out of the handbook of Prokofiev's themes: sprawling, slightly grotesque melody with rhythmically aggressive dynamic pulsation. It is a medley of a march and a song served as if two fast melody lines chased each other in an energetic motion.
The third movement is difficult in its figurative content. At first you hear the lyrical chant, in which the exposition contains many interesting textural details. The contrast is brought in the Allegro sostenuto episode with its vibrant duplicated melody against a uniform motion of sixteenths. In the reprise of the theme the composer describes this episode differently - in the deep bass, amidst murmuring chord figurations, and finally the theme appears more dazzling in the upper register.
In the finale the notes in the first theme are in rapid motion and the themes are full of humor. It reminds of a typical Prokofiev's scherzo. In the middle of the movement a slow episode (Andantino) emerges with so typical for the composer light and quiet lyrics with interesting texture presentation gripping almost the entire range of the piano register. Finally, against the background murmuring of fifths appears a reminiscence of the first theme of the Sonata in the upper register and based on softly applied shifts of the harmony, leading at the end to a deep sounding C major chord in the bass in the last bar.
The lyrics of the 9th sonata perceives as sophisticated, however at the end it bears an imprint of the elusive fatigue, perhaps, composer's one last look at the beauty of nature. That matches perfectly to the beautiful ending of the cycle of Prokofiev's sonatas.
Yefim Bronfman seems to have Prokofiev in his blood and maybe even in his genes. His decisive blow and articulation, sense of lyricism and motility and most importantly Prokofiev's musical humor, qualifies him for the exemplary performing of the composer's music. Bronfman plays the Sonatas of Prokofiev at the right pace and with ideal bravado.