Concerto for Piano and Orchesta No.1, (Piano, Trumpet and Strings) in C minor, Op. 35

When Shostakovich wrote his CONCERTO Nо. 1 FOR PIANO, TRUMPET AND STRING ORCHESTRA between March 6th and July 20th  1933, that was his first attempt at the concerto genre – the Second Piano Concerto, the two Violin Concertos and the two Cello Concertos would be written later. Initially, he considered writing a trumpet concerto for Leningrad Philharmonic trumpeter Alexander Schmidt. He then decided to add a piano, which in the process of the work was given precedence. But although the work is often referred to simply as the First Piano Concerto, it is in fact a double concerto in which the parts of the two solo instruments are completely equal. It was premiered on October 15th,  1933 in the Great Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic under the baton of the German conductor Fritz Stiedry ( emigrated from Germany after the Nazis came to power), the composer himself playing the keyboard part and Alexander Schmidt the trumpet solo. The very next year, 1934, the concerto was performed by the Philadelphia Philharmonic under Leopold Stokowski, the piano parts being played by pianist Eugene List.

The unusual combination of solo instruments was probably inspired by Paul Hindemith’s neo-Baroque Kammermusik No. 2, Op. 36, and perhaps also by Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments. This experimental work is filled with Shostakovich’s typical sarcastic humour and a series of parodied famous melodies. Scholars have found some affinity both with the character of Ravel’s G-major piano concerto and with the manner of combining diverse musical material of Shostakovich’s much-admired Gustav Mahler. There are parodied quotations from Haydn’s piano sonata, Beethoven’s Appassionata and his jocular Rondo a capriccio, Beethoven’s Rage Over a Lost Penny (in the piano’s final cadenza), the popular Austrian folk song O du lieber Augustin, as well as from his own works – the incidental  music to Hamlet and Hypothetically Murdered. In his annotation to a released recording of the concert, English composer, critic and publisher Robert Matthew-Walker writes, With such a polyglot collection of quotations and influences, only a composer of genius could have moulded this variety into a cohesive whole. The miracle is that Shostakovich succeeded, and constructed a distinctive and indestructible work… Shostakovich’s performance of the solo part at the Leningrad premiere was greeted with huge enthusiasm and rave reviews. This concert revived his career as a pianist and brought him performances of the work throughout the country.

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