Visions fugitives

Visions fugitives are a series of short piano pieces written by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) between 1915 and 1917. They were premiered by Prokofiev on April 15, 1918 in PetrogradSoviet Union. They were written individually, many for specific friends of Prokofiev's, and he originally referred to them as his "doggies" because of their "bite." in August 1917 Prokofiev played them for Russian poet Konstantin Balmont, and others, at the home of a mutual friend. Balmont was inspired to compose a sonnet on the spot, called "a magnificent improvisation" by Prokofiev who named the pieces "Mimolyotnosti" from these lines in Balmont's poem: "In every fleeting vision I see worlds, Filled with the fickle play of rainbows." A French-speaking friend at the house, Kira Nikolayevna, immediately provided a French translation for the pieces: Visions Fugitives. Prokofiev often performed only a couple of them at a time as encores at the end of his performances.

The pieces contain dissonant harmonies similar in nature to music composed by Prokofiev's contemporaries Schoenberg and Scriabin, although still retaining highly original concepts in both tonality and rhythm. The pieces are whimsical musical vignettes, and, although dissonant, are pleasant, effervescent, and bright, as if Prokofiev wished to show a slower, more joyous side of his imaginative personality. The overall effect is in the impressionist style, not unlike a work of Debussy; in fact, many of the movements are similar in style and sound. Because of the almost-uniformly mellow style of the piece, performers must have much patience and be willing to work on the relatively difficult technique required to capture the essence of this work.

Because the movements are so short individually (lasting around one or two minutes), most performances include a group of movements. A complete performance lasts between eighteen to twenty minutes, but due to the slow, expressive nature of these pieces, individual performers may have notably different times than indicated (relative, of course, to the short lengths of these movements.)