Symphony-Concerto (Prokofiev)

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Sergei Prokofiev's Symphony-Concerto in E minor, Op. 125 (sometimes referred to as Sinfonia Concertante) is a large-scale work for cello and orchestra. Prokofiev dedicated it to Mstislav Rostropovich, who premiered it on February 18, 1952 with Sviatoslav Richter conducting (the only instance of Richter conducting). After this first performance (under the title 'Cello Concerto No. 2'), it was revised and given its current title. It is itself a revised version of his earlier Cello Concerto, Op. 58, written in 1933–1938.

The work was written and revised mostly in 1950 and 1951, a period when Prokofiev was in declining health and official disfavor for musical formalism. One of his final completed works, it is about 40 minutes long in three movements:

  1. Andante (11 minutes)
  2. Allegro (18 minutes)
  3. Andante con moto – Allegretto – Allegro marcato (11 minutes)

For a long time, the Symphony-Concerto was considered unplayable. Even though many cellists today are now able to play it, it still remains a formidable challenge for any cellist.

This work inspired Dmitri Shostakovich to write his Cello Concerto No. 1, also dedicated to Rostropovich.


The premiere of Prokofiev's Cello Concerto (Op. 58) was generally thought to have been very poorly interpreted by the cellist, though the blame fell on Prokofiev for writing a "soul-less" concerto. The concerto was seldom played afterwards, until Prokofiev heard Rostropovich play it at a 1947 concert at the Moscow Conservatory. The performance reawakened Prokofiev's interest in the cello, and he rewrote his concerto (with advice from Rostropovich) to create the Symphony-Concerto (Op. 125). Also dating from this period are his cello sonata of 1949, and an unfinished concertino for cello and orchestra, later completed by Rostropovich and orchestrated by Kabalevsky.

See also[edit]


Cello Concerto in E Minor, Op.58

Cellist Orchestra Conductor Record Company Year of Recording Format
Roger Albin Orchestre des Cento Soli Rudolf Albert Club Français du Disque 1960 LP
Christine Walevska Orchestre National de Monte-Carlo Eliahu Inbal Philips 1973 LP
János Starker Philharmonia Walter Süsskind EMI Classics 1995 (1957 LP) CD
Alexander Ivashkin Russian State Symphony Orchestra Valeri Polyansky Chandos Records 2003 CD
Alban Gerhardt Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra Andrew Litton Hyperion Records 2008 CD
Steven Isserlis Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra Paavo Järvi Hyperion Records 2013 CD

Note that cellist/composer/conductor Roger Albin (1920–2001) was the first to record the complete, uncut original score.

Symphony-Concerto, Op.125

Cellist Orchestra Conductor Record Company Year of Recording Format
Mstislav Rostropovich Staatliche Philharmonie Leningrad Kurt Sanderling Intense Media Records 1957 CD
Mstislav Rostropovich Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Sir Malcolm Sargent EMI 1957 CD
Samuel Mayes Boston Symphony Orchestra Erich Leinsdorf RCA Victor 1964 LP
Mstislav Rostropovich USSR State Symphony Orchestra Gennady Rozhdestvensky Russian Revelation 1964 CD
Raphael Wallfisch Scottish National Orchestra Neeme Järvi Chandos Records 1986 CD
Mstislav Rostropovich London Symphony Orchestra Seiji Ozawa Warner Bros. Records 1987 CD
Yo-Yo Ma Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Lorin Maazel Sony Classical Records 1991 CD
Lynn Harrell Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Vladimir Ashkenazy Decca Records 1994 CD
Mischa Maisky Russian National Orchestra Mikhail Pletnev Deutsche Grammophon 1995 CD
Alexander Rudin Ukrainian National Symphony Orchestra Theodore Kuchar Naxos Records 1995 CD
Truls Mørk City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Paavo Järvi Virgin Records 1998 CD
Han-na Chang London Symphony Orchestra Antonio Pappano EMI Classics 2002 CD
Lynn Harrell Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra Gerard Schwarz Chandos Records 2005 CD
Alban Gerhardt Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra Andrew Litton Hyperion Records 2008 CD
Pieter Wispelwey Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra Vassily Sinaisky Channel Classics 2009 CD
Gautier Capuçon Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra Valery Gergiev Erato 2010 CD
Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt NDR Radiophilharmonie Gabriel Feltz Sony 2015 CD
Bruno Philippe Hessian Radio Orchestra Frankfurt Christoph Eschenbach Harmonia Mundi 2019 CD