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 1933–8.
The work was written and revised mostly in 1950 and 1951, a period when Prokofiev was in declining health and official disfavor for formalism. One of his final completed works, it is about 40 minutes long in three movements:
- Andante (11 minutes)
- Allegro (18 minutes)
- 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 musician.
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 Kabalevsky.