New Harmonia Mundi CD with Dmitri Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet op. 57 and the Seven Romances op. 127

The new album of the Trio Wanderer with Shostakovich's Piano Quintet in G Minor op. 57 and the Seven Romances for Soprano and Piano Trio based on poems by Alexander Blok op. 127, released by Harmonia Mundi, immediately received the prestigious award Le Choix de France Music. The recording of Shostakovich's Piano Trios op. 8 and op. 67 by Trio Wanderer, previously released by the same label, had already received top ratings.

For the recording of the Piano Quintet, the Trio requested the participation of violinist Catherine Montier and violist Christophe Gaugué. The rigour with which the chamber musicians begin the prelude is remarkable and signals a seriousness that goes on to determine the following fugue in a strangely oppressive mood. Shostakovich's retreat to traditional Baroque forms was, at the time of its creation, also a reaction to criticism of his earlier works, some of which had been described as "bourgeois" or “decadent”. The third movement of the Scherzo, with its abrupt, grimacing features and its at times exuberant liveliness, is a prime example of Shostakovich's idiosyncratic penchant for the grotesque. Beautifully sonorous and in its plaintive posture, a short Lento leads to the finale, which the French musicians explore in all its contradiction between brooding contemplation and lightness of dance.

The late work “Seven Romances after Poems by Alexander Blok” op. 127, recorded by the Trio Wanderer featuring mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk, was written in 1967 at a time when Shostakovich suffered serious health problems. The work is dedicated to the wife of the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, Galina Vishnevskaya. “At that time, he read a lot,” says composer Krzysztof Meyer, Shostakovich’s friend and biographer. In the winter of 1966 Shostakovich turned to the poems of Alexander Blok, whose poem “The Twelve” was one of his favourite poems. In comparison to earlier vocal works and also the last instrumental works, this cycle contains completely new character traits. “Shostakovich creates a music”, Meyer continues, “which is reflective, introverted, strongly chamber-musical focusing on the essentials - a music he apparently wrote largely for himself”.

On CD:
Dmitri Shostakovich:
Piano quintet in G Minor op. 57 / Seven Romances after Poems by Alexander Blok op. 127 for soprano and piano trio after poems by Alexander Blok
Trio Wanderer, Catherine Montier (violin), Christophe Gaugué (viola)
Ekaterina Semenchuk (mezzosoprano)
Harmonia Mundi HMM 902289

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