Shostakovich, Auerbach: Piano Trios
Delta Piano Trio
As the last releases of the year drop through the door, this is an instant ear grabber. Debate has raged for three decades as to whether Dmitri Shostakovich was a limp Soviet puppet or a secret resistant. The first view was advanced by US musicologists, who would not be satisfied until they had a signed document saying ‘I hate Stalin.’ Russian friends and fans of the composer heard his dissidence expressed in the music.
This deathless masterpiece is paired with two trios by the post-Soviet composer Lera Auerbach, who settled in the US, aged 17, in 1991. Musically, Auerbach occupies a post-Shostakovich estate, employing Bach bites and Mahlerian irony to drive a brisk, bleak, unsentimental outlook. At first hearing, she does not sound like the most original composer ever to draw pen. But her collage technique, reminiscent of Schittke though less aggressive, is effective in various surprising ways. The more recent of the two trios, dated 2012, dances very slowly on the edge of a volcano. Where Shostakovich blazed against the totalitarian state, Auerbach laments our present states of leaderless uncertainty. She’s a mature composer with a lot to say. Gerd Spronk, Irene Enzlin and Vera Kooper are the excellent trio players, and Odradek’s new Italian studio sounds idyllic.