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.
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.
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.