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April 15, 2010, at 6:42 pm — Arts and Culture | Audio | Music | music tracks / / / / / / / / / /

Derek Polischuk: Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1

The Avocado Jungle is excited to share with you an excellent performance of the Shostakovich Concerto in C minor for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra, Op. 35. Pianist Derek Polischuk is on the stage with Richard Illman on trumpet and the Michigan State University Symphony Orchestra. I had the pleasure of an interview with Derek—an old friend of mine and one of the nicest people I’ve ever known. The interview is in two parts. The first covers Derek’s personal and musical background and the Mozart Piano Concerto in D Minor. The second talks about this piece by Shostakovich.

In case you missed them, here are links to:

the first part of the interview,
his performance of the Mozart D Minor Concerto, and
the second part of the interview.

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Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1 – I. Allegretto
Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1 – II. Lento
Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1 – III. Moderato
Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1 – IV. Allegro con brio

Derek Polischuk, piano
Richard Illman, trumpet
Michigan State University Symphony Orchestra
Shostakovich Concerto in C minor for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra, Op. 35
recorded in October of 2006 at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts in East Lansing, Michigan.

* * * * *

This is an intriguing piece, and more challenging to listen to than the Mozart. The performance and the recording are both great and allow you to hear quite well one thing Derek suggests listening for—conversation between the piano, the trumpet and the orchestra. This is also a fun piece to see through the lens of music history. In the interview, Derek talks about how the Russian Shostakovich was covertly trying to be true to his personal artistic sensibilities while overtly catering to the nationalistic and old-fashioned standards of a horrific dictatorship. So this piece comes across as a strange “Where’s Waldo” of progressive ideas hidden among centuries-old musical structures and traditions. I think Derek and the orchestra do a fine job of making it all work—committing to the difficult dichotomy that stemmed straight from the composer’s frustrating artistic experience. Tune your ears in to this fun and unusual tour of the language of music and you’re in for a good time.

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