Prokofiev wrote his Sixth Symphony almost straight after the Fifth. The Sixth is quite different from the Fifth, despite the success of the latter at its premiere,
which the composer himself conducted in January 1945. Where the mood of the Fifth is triumphant and heroic (the Nazis had almost succumbed to defeat
by this stage), the Sixth is more elegiac, less compact and more diffuse.
Opinions differ widely on the work’s form; the Russian musicologist Nestiev, one of Prokofiev’s first biographers and of course toeing the Party line as he wrote, argued that the composer had swapped over the exposition and development in the first movement. If this is true, it may explain why the opening seems like a bombardment of motifs tumbling over each other, so that the surfeit of themes only gradually gives way to a semblance of order as the movement progresses.
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