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Shostakovich - Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 57 - Part 3/5

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Published on Aug 14, 2008

Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 57 (1940)

I. Prelude: Lento
II. Fugue: Adagio
III. Scherzo: Allegretto
IV. Intermezzo: Lento
V. Finale: Allegretto

Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)
Performers: Amati Quartet & Bruno Canino (piano)

Picture: Shostakovich with the musicians of Glazunov quartet of Lukashevsky - Ginsburg - Rivkin - Mogilevsky in January 1941

As with much of Shostakovich's music the Piano Quintet is an historical reflection of its time. It is a gravely serene piece marked by a simplicity of texture, especially in the piano writing: lines are doubled two octaves below, and there is little complex inter-part composition. All of this provides clarity, and an ample accessibility reflected in the popularity of the work immediately after its premiere. Rostislav Dubinsky, original first violinist of the Borodin Quartet recalls in his book, Not By Music Alone: "For a time the Quintet overshadowed even such events as the football matches between the main teams. The Quintet was discussed in trams, people tried to sing in the streets the second defiant theme of the finale. War that soon started completely changed the life of the country as well as the consciousness of the people. If previously there was the faint hope of a better life, and the hope that the 'sacrifices' of the revolution were not in vain, this hope was never to return. The Quintet remained in the consciousness of the people as the last ray of light before the future sank into a dark gloom."

The work is cast in five movements. The Prelude opens in the style of a Bach prelude, and foreshadows the remarkable preludes that Shostakovich was to write in the Preludes and Fugues for Piano, Op.87 (1950-51). The stirring entry of the piano is answered by the quartet, after which the mood changes and a related idea is developed until the opening reasserts itself. The Fugue begins gently and slowly and builds to a furor of lyricism. The Scherzo returns to Shostakovich's irrepressible sense of irony and humor, and is utterly brilliant. This side of the composer's personality is never restrained; there are dazzling and profound scherzos scattered throughout his work. This one is reminiscent of the Polka from the Age of Gold, or moments from the Cello Sonata, Op.40 (1934). The Intermezzo, tinged with regret and tranquillity, leads to a finale in which triumph is flung in direct opposition to darkness. This is the theme that Dubinsky recalls, and it appears before and after a thunderous, descending group of onrushing chords on the piano, the emotional core of the work. The Quintet finishes with wit and whimsy, contrary to the opening, in which the music spins off to a quiet conclusion.

Shostakovich and the Beethoven Quartet premiered the Quintet on November 23, 1940 at the Moscow Academy of Music. Shostakovich was an accomplished pianist and performed the piece many times with the Beethoven and later, the Borodin Quartet. Incidentally, Dmitri Dmitreyvich was an anxious performer and his resulting fast tempi are recognizable in recordings of his performances. Valentin Berlinsky, cellist of the Borodin Quartet, recalls in Elizabeth Wilson's book, Shostakovich: A Life Remembered that the composer would say "Let's play it fast, otherwise the audience will get bored." He would particularly rush the fast movements. The player's would beg him to slow down, saying "but your metronome mark is such and such!" The composer replied, "Well, you see my metronome at home is out of order, so pay no attention to what I wrote."
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  • Category

  • License

    • Standard YouTube License
  • Song

  • Artist

    • Amati Quartet
  • Album

    • Shostakovich: Piano Quintet in G Minor / String Quartet No. 12
  • Licensed by

    • NaxosofAmerica (on behalf of Divox)

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