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Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2; Piano Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2

Peter Donohoe

Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2; Piano Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2

Price: € 19.95
Format: CD
Label: Signum Classics
UPC: 0635212049327
Catnr: SIGCD 493
Release date: 06 October 2017
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Label
Signum Classics
UPC
0635212049327
Catalogue number
SIGCD 493
Release date
06 October 2017
Album
Artist(s)
Composer(s)
EN
NL

About the album

Celebrated international pianist Peter Donohoe continues his series of Shostakovich releases on Signum Classics, following his recent release of the 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87. For this new recording he is accompanied for the concertos by the Orchestra of the Swan under their artistic director David Curtis.

In his compositions Shostakovich, after mastering the orthodox nationalist style of Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov in his earliest orchestral works, had quickly shown a rebellious streak. To the dismay of both his composition teacher Maximilian Steinberg (Rimsky-Korsakov’s son-in-law) and his piano teacher Leonid Nikolayev, Shostakovich increasingly turned for inspiration to such leading modernists as Stravinsky and Prokofiev. Nikolayev was distinctly unimpressed with Shostakovich’s Op 12, calling it 'a sonata for metronome to the accompaniment of piano'. It is, of course, far more than that, but it is unquestionably a gnarly and knotty work for both performer and listener. It starts with a by turns nervy and thunderous allegro. Then follows a lento in which an alto melody is picked out, sandwiched amid what Prokofiev described as 'supple harmonies'. This leads without a break into a concluding allegro, boiling upwards from the bass like a malevolent spirit.

In 1932, Shostakovich decided to return to the concert platform as a pianist. For that purpose, he composed a set of 24 Preludes, Op 34, in December, shortly followed by his concerto for piano, trumpet and strings in spring 1933. Again, as with the first sonata, we can hear the influence of Prokofiev. Though nominally in four movements, the third movement is so brief that it effectively serves as a prelude to the finale; so to the casual listener the work falls into three main movements: a slow movement framed by lively outer movements in which we are presented with a circus-parade of Classical clichés in the style of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven.

Shostakovich’s second piano sonata is one of the most substantial works he composed for that instrument. It opens with a limpid allegretto, whose two themes are developed, building an increasingly involved and chromatically more anguished texture. The slow central movement offers hints of a more lyrical style in the midst of bare and often angular accompaniment with bitter harmonic implications. The finale, in the form of a set of nine variations, was in direct tribute to Shostakovich’s teacher who had recommended variation writing as a perfect exercise for budding composers to discover their own style.

Shostakovich composed his second piano concerto in 1957, just as he was recovering from the huge emotional blow of the sudden death of his first wife, Nina. The work appears a light divertimento rather than offering any of the shadows to be found in Shostakovich’s earlier concerto, let alone the darkness of his sonatas.Yet the pianist, Peter Donohoe, hears a darker subtext in the typically ‘triumphant’ treatment given to the first movement’s second subject, the modulation from C major to the minor for the end of the second movement, and the relentlessness of the superficially light-hearted third movement.

Daniel Jaffé © 2017

De gevierde internationale pianist Peter Donohoe zet zijn Sjostakovitsj-serie voort met de Pianoconcerten en Pianosonates. Hij wordt voor de concerten begeleid door het Orchestra of the Swan onder leiding van David Curtis.

Nadat Sjostakovitsj zich de orthodox-nationalistische stijl van Borodin en Rimski-Korsakov meester had gemaakt in zijn vroege orkestwerken, kreeg hij al snel een rebels tikje. Tot ontsteltenis van zowel zijn compositieleraar Maximillian Steinberg (Rimski-Korsakovs schoonzoon) en zijn pianoleraar Leonid Nikolayev, liet Sjostakovitsj zich steeds meer inspireren door toonaangevende modernisten als Stravinsky en Prokofjev. Nikolajev was niet onder de indruk van Sjostakovitsjs Pianosonate No. 1, Op. 12. Hij noemde het “een sonate voor metronoom met pianobegeleiding”. Het is natuurlijk veel meer dan dat, maar het is ongetwijfeld een ingewikkeld werk voor zowel uitvoerende als luisteraar. Het begint met een bij vlagen nerveus en donderend allegro. Daarna volgt een lento waarin een altomelodie wordt ingeklemd tussen wat Prokofjev beschrijft als “soepele harmonieën”. Dit leidt zonder onderbreking tot het afsluitende allegro, dat naar boven opkomt vanuit de bas als een boze geest.

In 1932 besloot Sjostakovitsj om terug te keren naar het concertpodium als pianist. Voor dat doel componeerde hij de 24 Preludes, Op.34 en zijn Eerste Pianoconcert. Net als in de eerste sonate is de invloed van Prokofjev hoorbaar. Ook al heeft het werk vier delen, het derde is zo kort dat het dient als een prelude tot de finale; voor de luisteraar valt het werk dus in drie delen uiteen: een langzaam deel omlijst door levendige hoekdelen waarin een parade aan klassieke clichés in de stijl van Mozart, Haydn en Beethoven gepresenteerd wordt.

De Pianosonate No.2, Op. 61 is een van de meest omvangrijke werken die Sjostakovitsj voor dat instrument componeerde. Het opent met een helder allegretto waarin twee thema’s worden ontwikkeld, waardoor er een steeds ingewikkeldere en meer gekwelde structuur ontstaat. Het langzame deel biedt aanwijzingen naar een meer lyrische stijl te midden van kale en vaak hoekige begeleiding met bittere harmonische gevolgen. De finale, in een vorm van een reeks van negen variaties, was een direct eerbetoon aan Sjostakovitsjs leraar, die hem de variatievorm had aangeraden als een perfecte oefening voor aankomende componisten om hun eigen stijl te ontdekken.

Sjostakovitsj componeerde zijn Tweede Pianoconcert in 1957, terwijl hij herstelde van de plotselinge dood van zijn eerste vrouw Nina. Het werk lijkt een licht divertimento, en biedt niet de schaduw in zijn eerdere concert, laat staan de duisternis uit zijn sonates. Toch hoort pianist Peter Donohoe een duisterder ondertoon in de typisch ‘triomfantelijke’ manier waarop het tweede thema uit het eerste deel behandeld wordt, de modulatie van C groot naar c klein aan het einde van het tweede deel en de meedogenloosheid van het oppervlakkig luchthartige derde deel.

Artist(s)

Orchestra of the Swan

Formed in 1995, Orchestra of the Swan is a British chamber orchestra which, under the artistic direction of David Le Page, is passionate about audience inclusivity and blurring the lines between genres, through its adventurous and accessible programming. he Swan presents over 45 concerts a year – both live and digital with a catalogue of over 20 recordings. We are passionate about new music and has premiered more than 70 new works by composers including Joe Cutler, Tansy Davies, Joe Duddell, Alexander Goehr, Roxanna Panufnik, Joseph Phibbs, Dobrinka Tabakova, Errollyn Wallen, Huw Watkins, John Woolrich and many others. Our album ‘Timelapse’ creates a space where sounds of the past and present collide to form a unique musical landscape. Although the pieces...
more
Formed in 1995, Orchestra of the Swan is a British chamber orchestra which, under the artistic direction of David Le Page, is passionate about audience inclusivity and blurring the lines between genres, through its adventurous and accessible programming.
he Swan presents over 45 concerts a year – both live and digital with a catalogue of over 20 recordings. We are passionate about new music and has premiered more than 70 new works by composers including Joe Cutler, Tansy Davies, Joe Duddell, Alexander Goehr, Roxanna Panufnik, Joseph Phibbs, Dobrinka Tabakova, Errollyn Wallen, Huw Watkins, John Woolrich and many others. Our album ‘Timelapse’ creates a space where sounds of the past and present collide to form a unique musical landscape. Although the pieces were written, in some cases, centuries apart and in culturally disparate eras, it is striking how much these contrasting works inhabit such similar emotional territory. Intriguing pairings of works by Rameau and Radiohead’s Pyramid Song, Schubert, and The Smiths, Adés and Grieg, Satie and Reich, complement each other beautifully and style have become irrelevant.
The Swan has been enormously successful in making a positive and effective contribution to the communities at the heart of its ‘immersive residencies’ in Herefordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Birmingham with an ambitious programme of work in care homes, schools and rural areas growing year by year. Based at the Stratford Play House, in Stratford-upon-Avon, the Swan is proof that an orchestra really can be an indispensable and relevant part of the community with its aim to entertain, educate and engage in a way that truly makes it a living orchestra.

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David Curtis (conductor)

Composer(s)

Dmitri Shostakovich

Dmitri Shostakovich was a Russian pianist and composer of the Soviet period. He is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century. Shostakovich achieved fame in the Soviet Union under the patronage of Soviet chief of staff Mikhail Tukhachevsky, but later had a complex and difficult relationship with the government. Nevertheless, he received accolades and state awards and served in the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR (1947–1962) and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union (from 1962 until his death). A polystylist, Shostakovich developed a hybrid voice, combining a variety of different musical techniques into his works. His music is characterized by sharp contrasts, elements of the grotesque, and ambivalent tonality; the composer was also heavily influenced by the...
more
Dmitri Shostakovich was a Russian pianist and composer of the Soviet period. He is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century.
Shostakovich achieved fame in the Soviet Union under the patronage of Soviet chief of staff Mikhail Tukhachevsky, but later had a complex and difficult relationship with the government. Nevertheless, he received accolades and state awards and served in the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR (1947–1962) and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union (from 1962 until his death).
A polystylist, Shostakovich developed a hybrid voice, combining a variety of different musical techniques into his works. His music is characterized by sharp contrasts, elements of the grotesque, and ambivalent tonality; the composer was also heavily influenced by the neo-classical style pioneered by Igor Stravinsky, and (especially in his symphonies) by the late Romanticism associated with Gustav Mahler.
Shostakovich's orchestral works include 15 symphonies and six concerti. His chamber output includes 15 string quartets, a piano quintet, two piano trios, and two pieces for string octet. His solo piano works include two sonatas, an early set of preludes, and a later set of 24 preludes and fugues. Other works include three operas, several song cycles, ballets, and a substantial quantity of film music; especially well known is The Second Waltz, Op. 99, music to the film The First Echelon (1955–1956), as well as the suites of music composed for The Gadfly.

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