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Dmitri Shostakovich Wrote This Piano Concerto For His Son, Maxim

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Shostakovich wrote his Piano Concerto No. 2 for his teenage son, Maxim, who premiered it at his graduation from the Moscow Conservatory in May, 1957.

Dmitri Shostakovich, known for many dramatic works composed in the shadow of Stalin, showed a different side —one filled with humor and family ties—in his Piano Concerto No. 2.

Listen to WRTI 90.1 on Sunday, January 28th at 1 pm as Kirill Gerstein performs Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with The Philadelphia Orchestra in a concert from 2015.

Radio Script:

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Father and son

Susan Lewis: Shostakovich wrote his Piano Concerto No. 2 for his teenage son Maxim, who premiered it at his graduation from the Moscow Conservatory in May, 1957.

Kirill Gerstein: I think it has a bit of this reputation that it's a youth concerto.

SL: Russian pianist Kirill Gerstein says that, in fact, its quite challenging.

KG: The first movement is very compact in terms of length and form, but it really contains everything in a short span. The second movement is particularly beautiful.

SL: Shostakovich also uses humor.

KG: The third movement makes fun of these educational piano exercises that Shostakovich’s son had to practice - as any pianist at some time encounters.

SL: There is intensity and drama in this somewhat miniature package, as compared to some of  his symphonies. So it’s a very rich piece.

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Pianist Kirill Gerstein

KG: The composer himself played and recorded it. The Philadelphia Orchestra first performed the work in 1982 at a Mann Music Center concert with Maxim Shostakovich conducting and his son, Dmitri, as soloist.

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Listen to Russian pianist Kirill Gerstein talk with Susan Lewis about his experience playing Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2