Shostakovich Piano concerto #2

Shostakovich Piano concerto #2

The Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major, Op. 102, by Dmitri Shostakovich was composed in 1957 for his son Maxim’s 19th birthday. Maxim Shostakovich premiered the piece during his graduation at the Moscow Conservatory. The concerto has three movements:


The first movement is very happy, as contrasted with so much of the composer’s more sad and tragic pieces. The first theme is played by the bassoon, which is soon joined by the clarinets and oboes. The piano enters with an answering theme, and later the piano picks up the pace with a ‘Drunken Sailor’ melody. A new theme in D minor is introduced and later also a Fugue. After a minute of the fugue, the orchestra comes back in playing the melody in the high winds. The orchestra builds on the main melody while the piano plays scales and tremolos, which lead into a joyous few lines of chords and octaves by the piano, with the main theme finally resurfacing and bringing the movement to a bouncy close.


The second movement is much more quiet and romantic. The mood is tender with a touch of melancholy. The strings start gently with a short introduction before the piano comes in with a beautiful lyrical theme. Although it remains slow throughout, this movement is marked by the recurrence of several gentle rhythms, as well as a great deal of expressiveness.


The finale opens with a dance, and it provides the listener with many scales and modes. Soon a second theme is introduced with the piano being accompanied with pizzicato playing by the strings.

I personally like the slow movement best, because – for me – it has more introspective content. Still it was a wise thing on the part of the composer to give us “relief” with the faster, merry movements on either side of the slow.

Here is a video of the composer himself, performing the first movement of this concerto:

Orchestre National De La Radiodiffusion Française
André Cluytens, conductor
Dmitry Shostakovich, piano

And here is Southern California pianist Berenika, performing the lovely second movement of this concerto. The pianist attended the Juilliard School, and she graduated Magna cum Laude from Harvard University with a degree in both Music and Government. She also received degrees from Oxford University and from the Royal Academy of Music in London. This is a lovely, honest, deeply-felt performance of this music:

Tags: Shostakovich Piano Concerto #2, Berenika, pianist

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