Frankly Music’s Untamed Shostakovich
The Piano Trio No. 2 was composed in Leningrad during dire World War II circumstances. Besides the general situation, Shostakovich wrote the piece in grief over the death of his best friend, as well as over the battle death of his most talented composition student. This powerful chamber work is rich with contrasts and psychological depth, from somber contemplation, to blazing astringency in the second movement, to obsessive funereal wailing and cathartic release.
Violinist Frank Almond, cellist Joseph Johnson and Neiman gave a thoroughly engrossing, emotionally raw performance on Monday night, playing with almost shocking, no-holds-barred wildness. After that I had to hear it again. The next night the performance was more contained, and generally more finished in all the basic elements of music making, without the untamed edginess. I loved the luxury of hearing it twice, and respected the honest difference in performances.