Recorded on 01/18/2012, uploaded on 01/18/2012
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
This sonata was one of Shostakovich’s early works, composed in December 1934, just prior to the censure by Soviet authorities of his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. He completed it within a few weeks and gave its premiere in Moscow soon thereafter with his close friend, the cellist Viktor Kubatsky, its dedicatee.
The sonata form first movement contrasts a broad first theme in the cello, accompanied by flowing piano arpeggios, developed by the piano to an intense climax. As tension abates, a ray of light appears with the tender second theme, with unusual tonal shifts, announced by the piano and cello. In the development a spiky rhythmic motif penetrates through the flowing textures of the first theme, but soon the gentler second theme reappears. All seems in order, until an unusual pianissimo "recapitulation" section where all moves in slow motion, with staccato chords in the piano and sustained notes in the cello. The second movement has a perpetual motion energy, its thrusting repeated ostinato pattern relentlessly shared while a delicate first theme is presented by the piano in widely spaced octaves. The cello’s more light-hearted theme is later imitated up in the piano’s brittle high register. Piquant wit abounds in familiar classical gestures set askew, sudden lurches into unrelated keys, until the initial driving ostinato resumes, leading to a sudden conclusion. The bleak expanses of Russia are evoked in the soulful slow movement, the piano providing a dark backdrop for the cello’s rhapsodic, vocal theme. Reflective introspection through icy dissonances that touch, yet do not settle, on warmer consonances until the music at last fades into impressionistic twilight. Caustic wit colors the brief ebullient finale, a type of rondo in which the main playful theme appears three times, imitated by both instruments, interspersed by episodes full of sparkling scales. In the second of these, the piano is let loose in a cadenza of helter-skelter zest, ebulliently veering into unexpected tonal highways. The theme returns, to round the movement off in abrupt yet decisive brilliance. Hans Kristian Goldstein
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
This is a brilliant performance.
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