Dmitri Shostakovich
Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op. 67


4.0
excellent

Review

by GeorgeCostanza USER (3 Reviews)
January 17th, 2011 | 17 replies


Release Date: 1944 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Glee and madness mixed together in equal parts.

“That is his temper, his polemics, his manner of speech, his habit of returning to one and the same thought, developing it.”

The speaker here is the sister of Ivan Sollertinsky, speaking of the portrait of her brother in the second movement of Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No.2. It is a furiously-paced movement, glee and madness mixed together in equal parts, a hodgepodge of themes thrown together, each one more frenzied and excited than the previous one, crashing chords ending the brief movement with extreme bravura and breathlessness. Ivan Sollertinky was a friend of Shostakovich’s, alternately described as being his “ideal companion,” “mentor,” and “alter ego” – the trio was dedicated to him, and was the first major work written after his unexpected and tragic death in 1944 at the age of 42. Upon hearing of Sollertinsky’s death, Shostakovich offered the following words of condolence to Sollertinsky’s widow: “It is impossible to express in words all the grief that engulfed me on hearing the news about Ivan Ivanovich’s death. Ivan Ivanovich was my closest and dearest friend…To live without him will be unbearably difficult.”

Four days after the death of Sollertinsky, Shostakovich finished composing the first movement of the Piano Trio No.2. It is a bleak, despairing movement, opening with the main theme being played entirely by solo, muted cello harmonics, this theme subsequently being obsessively developed throughout the movement, traversing from the ghostly opening through to pensive piano theme backed by static repeating staccato eighth notes, transforming into an explosive, martial statement by the cello, then carrying on as a sinister waltz played by pizzicato strings, developing on into a full-throated fortissimo wail, and finally trickling out as a reminiscence on the piano at the end of the movement. The tragic mood is briefly broken by the mad frenzy of the second movement, but then picked up again in the third movement, which opens with crashing, tormented piano chords, followed by a profoundly beautiful and sad theme played out on violin and cello, first by the two instruments separately, then interwoven between the two instruments.

The final movement brings together many of the various elements and themes of the piece up until now, as well as introducing a fresh crop of tunes, including some distinctly Russian folk melodies, and a Jewish tune. In 1944, the news of the horrors of the concentration camps was just starting to trickle out; but Shostakovich’s interest in Jewish music dated back further than 1944. At the time of his composition of the trio, he was working on completion of his student Fleyshman’s opera, Rothschild’s Violin; he stated himself, “It seems I comprehend what distinguishes the Jewish melos. A cheerful melody is built here on sad intonations…Why does he sing a cheerful song? Because he is sad at heart.” This mixture that attracted to Jewish music, of tragedy thinly papered over with cheer, of irony both masking and expressing profound sadness, of beauty and despair expressed together, is present in all of Shostakovich’s music, but finds particular poignancy in this Trio, reflecting both the horrific, devastating historical time in which he was writing this piece, as well as intense personal quality of the loss for him of his closest and dearest friend, Sollertinsky.


user ratings (9)
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
GeorgeCostanza
January 17th 2011


196 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

reposting this on my GeorgeCostanza account. please delete the version i submitted as Shaq



as i wrote in the thread attached to that version, i originally wrote this a few years ago as program notes for the Oberon Trio. it's up on their website, so if it comes up there and elsewhere on the web that's why. i find that it works as a review, too

Mordecai.
January 17th 2011


8400 Comments


i find that it works as a review, too


you're wrong

Ire
January 17th 2011


41945 Comments


tl;dr

GeorgeCostanza
January 17th 2011


196 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it's three normal sized paragraphs and a two-sentence quote

Mordecai.
January 17th 2011


8400 Comments


can you give me the jist of it in one or two words?

SloppyMilkshake
January 17th 2011


981 Comments


I wouldn't say this is tl;dr at all, it's just you seem to abuse commas a lot and the sentences sort of run on. It does sound interesting though, I may check this out as I've been interested in discovering more classical music (and I'm already a fan of Stravinsky).

GeorgeCostanza
January 17th 2011


196 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

can you give me the jist of it in one or two words?


gist*



glee/madness

Ire
January 17th 2011


41945 Comments


k

Aids
January 17th 2011


24461 Comments


see this is an actual good review. MJ, stick to this sort of stuff and avoid that stupid bullshit that you write for skramz.

I honestly didn't think you were capable of writing a decent review until this. I'll pos

thebhoy
Emeritus
January 17th 2011


4463 Comments


I love Shostakovich

GeorgeCostanza
January 17th 2011


196 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@STOP SHOUTING!: you want me to fuck off? i would have thought you'd appreciate a more "serious" MJ review



thanks for the pos Aids



and yeah thebhoy Shostakovich is a master

GeorgeCostanza
January 17th 2011


196 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

and how do you like the review, thebhoy?

STOP SHOUTING!
January 17th 2011


777 Comments


stop trying to act like a well adjusted adult. stick to spitting your dummy out and posting images of cripple porn and faeces. suits you more.

GeorgeCostanza
January 17th 2011


196 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i think they got rid of image posting so i'm afraid i can't help you man

thebhoy
Emeritus
January 17th 2011


4463 Comments


review was good. I'm not a particular fan of the long, verbose writing style, I find it a little dry, but that's more of a personal, stylistic qualm more than anything. A couple of redundancies, the very first non-quote sentence you don't need to say speaker twice (even though the latter is speaking), and in the last paragraph that one sentence doesn't need to have 1944 twice, just some examples. Otherwise, yeah it's good.

STOP SHOUTING!
January 23rd 2011


777 Comments


mj you are so sad.

kitsch
February 28th 2013


5117 Comments


checking this out because of this review



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