Dmitri Shostakovich

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

Nationality: Russian | Soviet
Born: September 25, 1906, St. Petersburg Died: August 9, 1975, Moscow (age 68)

Piano Trio No. 1 in c minor, Op. 8

(for violin, cello and piano)
Andante - Moderato
Duration: 13 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1923 (age 16-17)
Dedication: Tatyana Glivenko
Note: Originally titled "Poème." Apparently, (from wiki), the last 16 bars were completed later by Shostakovich's pupil, Boris Tishchenko.
7 recordings, 7 videos
Jansen, Thedéen, Nebolsin
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From Kai Christiansen

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

Piano Trio No.1 in C minor, Op. 8 (1923)

With his epic cycles of symphonies and string quartets alone, Shostakovich must be reckoned as one of truly great 20th century composers. But there is much more in his extraordinary oeuvre spanning all genres, especially chamber music. Shostakovich composed his mature, second piano trio in 1944 at the age of 38 and it is a stunning and potent masterwork firmly in the repertoire. Likely less well known is his compelling first piano trio, Op. 8, a "student" work Shostakovich wrote in 1923 at the tender age of 16. Such was his precocity that he had already been a student at the Petrograd Conservatory for three years. A bout of tuberculosis sent the young Shostakovich to sanatorium to convalesce where, according to a letter from his sister Mariya, he got a suntan and fell in love. The object of his affections was girl named Tatyana Glivenko to whom Shostakovich eventually dedicated the piano trio, quite possibly the chief inspiration for this piece that he completed upon returning from his hiatus. One can imagine his amorous intent from the original title Poème. The trio was not published during Shostakovich's lifetime and, apparently, its current published form was assembled from multiple manuscript sources with the final missing bars of the piano part completed by composer Boris Tishchenko.

The single movement Piano Trio No. 1 in C minor, Op. 8, though sometimes regarded as "student work" is a great piece by several standards but particularly so because it shows that even at the age of 16, Shostakovich was a gifted, skillful and original composer with strong evocations of his mature sensibilities summarized aptly by writer Robert Philips with "lyrical melodies colored by acerbic harmonies, sudden contrasts of pace and energy, insistent rhythms, and spare textures giving way to unashamedly romantic passages and powerful climaxes." A key trait in this early musical snapshot is what one of his professors criticized as an "obsession with the grotesque." On the surface, it is an evocative rhapsody with several recurrent themes (or motifs) featuring abrupt transitions where chromatically colored driving momentum gives way to shimmering, lyrical repose. It has been suggested that its episodic theatricality reflects the fact that Shostakovich was then making money by playing live music for silent films where he and some friends rehearsed the trio in public. A deeper listen with the aid of a score shows that the trio's musical material is rather tightly integrated with each section arising through thematic transformation of previous materials and well as combining multiple themes into ever shifting composites. Beautifully constructed and vividly expressed, the trio is complex, passionate and, with its wild contrasts, compellingly ambiguous. As with the mature Shostakovich, sincerity mingles with irony, hope with despair, the lovely with the grotesque, the real with the surreal.

© Kai Christiansen Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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