Shostakovich: Piano Trios 1 & 2, Seven Romances on verses by Alexander Blok Op.127
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The Beaux Arts Trio has recorded all three works composed by Shostakovich for piano trio. These date respectively from the beginning, the middle and the end of the composer’s career.
The “C minor Piano Trio” was composed in 1923 when Shostakovich was 17 years old and the most brilliant student at the Petrograd Conservatory. It is dedicated to Tatyana Glivenko, an early girlfriend. In the single movement work, Shostakovich tried to avoid the sound of 19th century piano trios and to create original music for a post-Revolutionary society. The trio, characterised by many different tempi and musical characters, was not published until after the composer’s death.
The “E Minor Piano Trio” was begun in 1943 immediately after Shostakovich had completed his 7th and 8th symphonies. It was strongly affected by public and private events including the devastation of the Second World War and the sudden death of his close friend, Ivan Sollertinsky. The finale is grim and disturbing, using Jewish idioms as symbols of oppression and victimhood. The ending is still, like a mass grave.
The final work began life as a composition for Shostakovich’s friends the soprano Galina Vishnevskaya and her husband cellist Mstislav Rostropovich to texts chosen while the composer recovered from a heart attack in 1966. But, realising that he needed other instruments, he added the violin and the piano. In the “Seven Romances on verses by Alexander Blok”, the first three songs are accompanied by solo instruments, the next three by duets and the last song by all three instruments playing together. When Shostakovich’s illness prevented him from playing the piano part himself at the premiere, Vishnevskaya and Rostropovich were joined by Sviatoslav Richter and David Oistrakh. In this recording the soloist is Joan Rodgers, one of Britain’s best loved singers.