Born: 1906, St. Petersburg, Russia
Died: 1975, Moscow, Russia
“I always try to make myself as widely understood as possible; and if I don’t succeed, I consider it my own fault.”
Composed in 1934 shortly after the composer’s famously scandalous (and belatedly criticized) opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, the Sonata is everything the opera was purportedly not: disciplined, classically proportioned, sonorous, and eminently lyrical.
The first movement of the Beethovenian Cello Sonata follows a textbook sonata form. It has a repeated exposition, for the first time in Shostakovich’s music, and its themes have the sharp character contrast – serious intellectual energy against expressive tenderness.
There is more than a hint of satire in the biting, quasi moto perpetuo second movement, but its industrial strength dynamism echoes the energy of many a Beethoven scherzo, as does the swapping of lines between cello and piano.
The finale is again athletic. It was composed for his own performing use and it makes a ready impression, with technique and sass amply displayed in both parts.
Concerto for Piano and Trumpet (1933)
Yefim Bronfman, Thomas Stevens, Los Angeles
Philharmonic, Esa-Pekka Salonen (Sony Classical)
String Quartets Nos. 1-15 (1938-1974)
Fitzwilliam Quartet (Decca)