Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Music in the Shadow of War

The very fine cellist Steven Isserlis is curating a series of four concerts called "Music in the Shadow of War" at Wigmore Hall in London of which the first is tonight. The Guardian has an excellent article about the series. I first heard Steven in a concert of the Vancouver Chamber Music Festival a long, long time ago. It was probably in the 1980s sometime. In any case, apart from some Boccherini, I recall him playing in the Shostakovich Trio in E minor, op. 67. The current series also includes a performance of this extraordinary trio. Here is a performance of the first movement recorded in 1945 with Shostakovich himself at the piano:

I want to use this post to introduce a series of posts about the trio. It is one of the most powerful pieces of chamber music ever written, but not known nearly as well as its aesthetic stature would suggest. I propose to get into the piece in some detail, talking about the historic context as well as how the piece actually works.

Here is the entire piece played by members of the Borodin String Quartet & Elisabeth Leonskaja on piano.

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