Leningrad Philharmonic Bolshoi Hall, Leningrad
Dmitri Tsyganov, vln / Sergei Shirinsky, vlc / Dmitri Shostakovich, pft /
The Second Piano Trio is one of Shostakovich’s most famous and popular chamber works. It was written in memory of the distinguished scholar Ivan Sollertinsky, who had been Shostakovich’s closest friend since the 1920s and had helped guide and steer him in his early years as a composer. Shostakovich was devastated to learn of Sollertinsky’s untimely death, the result of his deprivations during the Siege of Leningrad. Within days he had begun this Trio.
The whole work reflects the composer’s new-found interest in klezmer music (Jewish village wedding music). Neither Shostakovich nor Sollertinsky was Jewish, but they shared an interest in Jewish culture and music, from Mahler to folk-music. The Trio is in four movements. After a heartfelt opening and a malevolently relentless scherzo, there follows a sombre and grief-filled slow movement, and, the most Jewish-sounding of all the four, a finale which in the dislocated simplicity of its endless return to the same mournful dance-theme recalls the world of Jewish village violin-playing, as depicted for example in the paintings of Marc Chagal.
Note by Gerard McBurney