Shostakovich: Piano Trios Nos.1 & 2/ Schnittke: Piano Trio (Alfred Schnittke/ Kempf Trio) (BIS: BISSACD1482)
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Shostakovich composed his first piano trio after being sent to Crimea to recover from tuberculosis. There he fell in love with the daughter of a Moscow professor and began to compose the trio, a passionate work representing a vital stage in his development towards his First Symphony. Years later, in the midst of the 2nd World War, he completed his second piano trio which was born out of the appalling sufferings of his fellow-countrymen and reflected the loss of his closest friend, the writer Ivan Sollertinsky, who died unexpectedly in the middle of Shostakovich's work on the trio.
Schnittke's only piano trio originated as a string trio. Written to mark the centenary of Alban Berg in 1985, Schnittke in it 'avoided his trademark stylistic confrontations and direct quotations, preferring subtle allusions to the world of the Viennese classics, especially Schubert' (David Fanning). Soon after completing the trio, Schnittke suffered the first of a series of massive strokes, but in 1992 he revisited the work, dedicating the version for piano trio to his doctor, Alexander Potapov.
On a previous disc, the Kempf Trio has released two other Russian piano trios - those of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov - in performances described as 'fiery, cogent, intelligent and wholly compelling' - Evening Standard, and 'a triumph' - The Strad. In the present, no less impassioned and passionate programme, we hear the swan-song of this fine ensemble, which was recently dissolved.