As a young man in Moscow in the early 1960s Vladimir Ashkenazy was invited by Shostakovich to play a private performance of the Piano Trio No 2 in the composer’s apartment.
Ashkenazy’s friendship with the composer and his lifelong advocacy of his music as a pianist and conductor lends the performances on this album a unique, definitive authority and he is joined by long-standing chamber music partners. Astonishingly, these are Ashkenazy’s first recordings of this music and add to a remarkable Shostakovich discography on Decca.
The three works on this album span Shostakovich’s entire creative life: from the early, rarely heard Trio No 1 – an almost uncharacteristically romantic piece written when he was 16 – to his very last composition, the Viola Sonata of 1975. In between comes the masterpiece which was born of national and personal tragedy in Leningrad in 1944: the Piano Trio No 2.
In the Trios Ashkenazy is reunited with the team he recorded Rachmaninov with: “Ashkenazy, Visontay and Lidström tap the vein of grief coursing through this music…They also unleash passion” (Daily Telegraph). And for the viola sonata, Ashkenazy is joined by the distinguished Norwegian violist Ada Meinich, until recently a member of the Faust Quartet.