Conservatory Bolshoi Hall, Moscow
Maxim Shostakovich, piano / USSR Symphony Orchestra / Nikolai Anosov
The Second Piano Concerto is one of Shostakovich’s lightest and most accessible pieces. It was written for his 19-year-old son Maxim to perform and deliberately aimed to be not too demanding either emotionally or technically. Although the composer himself was sometimes dismissive of it, claiming that he never intended it as a serious piece of music, this is a concerto that has given immense pleasure especially to those coming to classical music for the first time.
The first movement is a likable and elegant allegro, which makes all the right neo-classical gestures to sonata form. A slow movement follows with a delicious melody in a sweet film-music manner, deliberately sentimental but at the same time managing to be genuinely touching. It is also maddeningly catchy; the listener can find themselves humming this tune for days after a good performance! The concerto ends with a crisply dancing finale.
Note by Gerard McBurney