Critical Notes Series: Prokofiev's Cello Sonata, Op. 119

Review: Prokofiev Cello Sonata Op. 119 (Hans Sikorski 2001 revised edition) 

Prokofiev's Cello Sonata, Op. 119 is a masterpiece cellists are lucky to have in our repertoire. It comes from Prokofiev's collaboration with cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. Other cello works of this period include the Sinfonia Concertante, Op. 125, the unfinished Solo Sonata, op. 133, and the unfinished Concertino, Op. 132. The tried and true editions of the Op. 119 Sonata are Peters and IMC. IMC is basically a reprint (photocopy) of the Peters. Both editions include a cello part edited by Rostropovich. This somber, witty, majestic work can be faithfully rendered using one of these 2 editions.

In 2001, Sikorski decided to release a newly engraved "revised" edition. In many cases, revised editions are welcomed, especially when the composer initiates the revision. But in this case, Prokofiev had been dead for almost a half-century. This piece had been codified in standard and composer-approved form since the 1950s. The new edition, poorly engraved, printed on glossy paper, was at best an unnecessary marketing ploy.

Although there are two corrections in mm. 100 and 102 of the first movement with regards to expressive text and rhythm in the piano (see below), the additional errors outweigh the two corrections. There are 2 spots that look like plausible alternative readings, but I wouldn't spend twice as much money for new music for 2 notes, especially since you will not find these notes in any recording by Rostropovich. Typography suffers greatly, especially in the finale where the ossia appears in the same size as the main text. There is a place with a wrong key signature in the RH of piano, as well as out-of-place key signatures in a couple of spots. I would not recommend this edition to anyone who is serious about studying this piece.

Below is a list of things that are present in the Sikorski edition that are not present in the IMC, Peters, and Leeds Music.


Movement 1

m.27 -  sul G (mistake); the Russian edition has this, too - should be sul C 
m.58 - > on note 1 – In Russian edition, too 
m.100 - "con espressione drammatica" (corrected adjective) 
m.199, note 4 - C (mistake) - should be A 
m.208 - chords 3 and 4, top note G (mistake), needs to be F#
m.215 - etc. harmonic sign used for thumb (odd notation) 

Movement 2 

m.28 - different slurring (mistake?) 
m.80, note 1 - eighth note (Peters Edition) 2 sixteenths (Sikorski and Russian edition)
m.110 - mf removed 

Movement 3

m.29 - tremolo (mistake) – not played by Rostropovich 
m.63 - accidental added on a tie (not needed) 
m.80 - courtesy p added 
m.84, note 2 - D# (mistake) - should be an E 
m.156, note 10 - D (mistake) - should be B-flat
m.161, note 8 - F (mistake), needs to be an E-flat
m.214 - beats 3 and 4 slurred (mistake?) 


Movement 1

mm.23-24 - slur (mistake)
mm.59-61 all slurred together (badly placed slur) 
mm.101-102 - rhythm fixed (previously wrong in the Russian edition and Peters/IMC) 
m.134 - “poco rit.” on first beat - In Russian edition on third beat 

Movement 2

m.4 - RH flat accidental missing on both E’s
m. 28, beat 3 - F natural (mistake) - should be F# 
m. 31 - LH lower voice must be a D, not an F
m.69 - RH wrong key signature! 

Movement 3

m.29 - VLC and RH key signature misplaced 
mm. 60-61 - RH has E-flat and F-flat (mistake), needs to be E-double flat and F-natural (thanks Carlos Avila for the tip)
m.94, beat 4 - RH B (mistake, see parallel passage in mm.96 and 98) - should be a C 
m.138, beat 1 - RH low D (mistake) - should be C's in octaves 
m.192, beat 3 - A-flat (mistake, see parallel passage in m.193) - should be B-flat 
m.194, beat 3 - A-flat octave lower 
m.200 - the ossia is HUGE and it's on top, making the main text difficult to read 
m.206 - RH of ossia, note 2 no E octave (mistake) 
m.206 - ossia not lined up with the main text