This quintet was written early in Prokofiev’s career, whilst the composer was living in Paris and experimenting with the chromaticism and rhythmic complexities of the new music scene.
Written in six movements, the work was originally commissioned by Romanov’s travelling dance troupe. Although it began life as music for the ballet, Trapeze, Prokofiev always intended that the work become a stand-alone concert piece. Touches of humour, moments of tension and traces of the grotesque can all still be heard in this entertaining quintet.
Later, on returning to Stalin’s Russia, Prokofiev abandoned this exploratory style, in favour of a simpler lyricism. In his biography, he described these earlier works as tainted by contact with the west, writing “This was the effect of the Parisian atmosphere where complex patterns and dissonances were the accepted thing, and which fostered my predilection for complex thinking.”