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Shostakovich: Piano Trio No. 2

Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: A dark piece from a dark time in history.

The year 1944 was a particularly difficult year for Dmitri Shostakovich and the citizens of the Soviet Union in general. For Shostakovich, his best friend Ivan Sollertinsky died suddenly and tragically, which left the composer in a great state of grief. It is also during this period that the Soviet Union, as they were fighting back against Nazi Germany, began to discover and liberate the death camps where millions of Jews perished during the Holocaust. Death and the grief that follows it is the central theme, then, of Shostakovich’s 2nd Piano Trio. Dedicated to his dear friend Sollertinsky, it is an incredibly moving, albeit disturbing work. This movement, the Largo, is particularly profound in its simplicity and its sheer emotional depth. Several thematic elements from the 2nd Trio later found their way into Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8, which he dedicated “to the victims of fascism and war.”

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