Hyperion Records

Piano Quintet in G minor, Op 57

'Shostakovich: Quartet No. 1, Quintet & Trio No. 2' (CDA67158)
Shostakovich: Quartet No. 1, Quintet & Trio No. 2
'Shostakovich: The Complete String Quartets' (CDS44091/6)
Shostakovich: The Complete String Quartets
MP3 £30.00FLAC £30.00ALAC £30.00 CDS44091/6  6CDs Boxed set (at a special price) — Deleted  
Movement 1: Prelude
Track 9 on CDA67158 [5'10]
Track 9 on CDS44091/6 CD6 [5'10] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price) — Deleted
Movement 2: Fugue
Track 10 on CDA67158 [11'47]
Track 10 on CDS44091/6 CD6 [11'47] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price) — Deleted
Movement 3: Scherzo
Track 11 on CDA67158 [3'29]
Track 11 on CDS44091/6 CD6 [3'29] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price) — Deleted
Movement 4: Intermezzo
Track 12 on CDA67158 [7'31]
Track 12 on CDS44091/6 CD6 [7'31] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price) — Deleted
Movement 5: Finale
Track 13 on CDA67158 [6'58]
Track 13 on CDS44091/6 CD6 [6'58] 6CDs Boxed set (at a special price) — Deleted

Piano Quintet in G minor, Op 57
The Piano Quintet in G minor was composed in 1940, following extensive work on two large-scale projects – the Sixth Symphony Op 54 and the re-orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov Op 58. The Quintet was first performed on 23 November 1940 by the Beethoven Quartet and Shostakovich himself. The composition was awarded a Stalin Prize of 100,000 roubles. A glance at the list of movements might lead one to imagine that this is a neoclassical work, but its direct emotional power and thematic integration place it on altogether a higher level than mere pastiche. The piano begins the Quintet, lento, with a solo packed with a tiny three-note cell that can be traced all through the work – this is nothing more than the first three notes of the tonic minor scale. The tone colour of the first entry of the strings is also noteworthy, for it is the cello that is heard above the other instruments. A full close leads to the poco più mosso in 3/8, beginning as a duo for piano and viola. As the other instruments gradually join in, a crescendo leads to the concluding section, lento. In the closing bars G major is touched upon, but is not firmly established as a new region in its own right.

The second movement is a four-voiced fugue beginning with a strict exposition by the muted strings in this order: violin I, violin II, cello, viola. The subject’s answer is tonal, and the fugue continues with the entry of the piano, which almost paradoxically reduces the texture to two lines, reverting to four later. Towards the end of the fugue G major is again tentatively established, but this time by its first inversion – which has B as the root. This subtle point leads directly to the B major tonality of the central movement, the whirlwind Scherzo. This is the first occasion all five instruments have played together for an extended passage in the Quintet, and the central (in classical procedure, the trio) section begins as a danse macabre from first violin, taken up by the piano in high octaves. A reprise of the scherzo leads to a breathless coda.

The Intermezzo is cool and relaxed, with unhurried and essentially single-line music over a gentle walking bass. This builds into a fine and impassioned climax which dies away, finally leaving Ds separated by six octaves. At last, the deep tonal plan of this masterpiece becomes clear: D both completes the major triadic endings of the movements (G, B and now D), implying the final major mode, and is also the classical dominant of G, in which major key the Finale follows, attacca, stealing in with a gentle piano theme, itself having grown thematically from the intial germinal ideas. As the movement progresses, other ideas are recalled, and the music now smiles rather than laughs until, in the closing bars, the Quintet ends gently but swiftly in a complaisant G major.

from notes by Robert Matthew-Walker © 2004

Track-specific metadata
Click track numbers opposite to select

   English   Français   Deutsch