The Piano Trio number 1, Op. 8 in C Minor was composed in 1923 when Shostakovich was 17 years old and still a student at the Petrograd Conservatory. Shostakovich tried to avoid the sound of 19th-century piano trios and to create original – sounding music; he certainly succeeded!
His E Minor Piano Trio, number 2, begun in 1943 immediately after Shostakovich had completed his 7th and 8th symphonies. As such, it was composed 20 years after the first trio. The Piano Trio #2 is among Shostakovich’s most anguished works. The Finale is grim and disturbing music, using Jewish idioms as symbols of oppression and death. The ending sounds quite tragic, as it was surely intended to be.
The Vienna Piano Trio performs this music on this recording with warmth and deep feeling that clearly comes from understanding the soul of this music. The key here is that this music should not sound too lovely; after all, it is the composer’s elegy and tribute to all of those who suffered persecution, death, and finality in an era where these things occurred all too frequently and should never be forgotten.
Here is the Shostakovich – Trio for piano, violin & cello No. 1, Op. 8 as performed by the Vienna Brahms Trio: