Krzysztof Penderecki

Krzysztof Penderecki
Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-2020) conducting his oratorio "Seven Gates of Jerusalem" at the Winter Palace, St Petersburg, in 2001. Photo by Dmitry Lovetsky

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Dmitri Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No.1 in C minor – Sergei Redkin, St Petersburg State Capella Symphony Orchestra, Alim Shakhmametyev (HD 1080p)

Russian pianist Sergei Redkin (third prize at the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition, 2015) performs Dmitri Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No.1 (Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings) in C minor, Op.35, with St Petersburg State Capella Symphony Orchestra under conductor Alim Shakhmametyev. Recorded at St Petersburg Music House on January 14, 2015.

When Dmitri Shostakovich produced his Concerto No.1 in C minor for Piano, Trumpet and Strings, Op.35 in 1933, he was on top of the musical world in Russia. Not only that, but at age 27, he was already a composer of international renown, in the wake of the Symphony No.1: his glittering student masterpiece. In these post-revolutionary years, Soviet Musical culture was still sorting itself out, and Stalin's cultural goons had not yet begun their systematic terrorization of their nation's finest composers. Several years earlier, he had gotten a mild official "hand-slap" for his Tahiti Trot (his witty and whimsical take on "Tea for Two"), but the young genius was not to feel the regime's full wrath until Stalin and company viciously condemned his second opera, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, in 1936.

From then on, Shostakovich was forced to walk a tenuous artistic tightrope for the rest of his life, struggling to balance his creative integrity against the Kremlin's cultural dogma. But for now, his work – including two more regime-pleasing symphonies and his satirical opera The Nose (plus popular ballet, film and stage scores) had made him one of his country's musical darlings. And it was under such comparatively sunny circumstances that his first piano concerto came to sassy and vibrant life.

First performed in 1933 in Leningrad (St Petersburg) with the composer (also a brilliant pianist) at the keyboard, the work is full of burlesque swagger and impish, often sardonic humor. Even then, Shostakovich understood the official predilection for crude, even banal themes – but part of his genius was his ability to elevate the banal into the realm of art. And so it is often the case here, with a good bit of "common" musical material transformed into episodes of brain-teasing sophistication.

But there are quite a few instances of more exalted thematic material as well, owing to the composer's well-known habit of borrowing themes from other composers, as well as from his own works. Here, he both begins and ends the work with modified themes from Beethoven: the first movement's opening downward piano triad was apparently inspired by the opening bars of the "Appassionata" piano sonata, and the concluding frantic passages of the finale are based on his G major Rondo a Capriccio, popularly known as "Rage over a Lost Penny". In between, there are quotes from several of Shostakovich's earlier scores – and even a tid-bit from Haydn.

Following the first movement's brief opening bright splash, the initial Beethovenian theme tries to cast a somber overall mood – but Shostakovich doesn't let that happen, leading the theme instead into material more typical of a music-hall. The trumpet enters, with intermittent snippets reminiscent of jazzed-up military bugle calls. The original theme reappears here and there, tugging the music back and forth between serious and saucy. It should be noted that the trumpet has not yet become a full partner to the piano at this point, instead providing mostly irreverent musical "commentary" here and there. The mood changes abruptly in the following Lento movement, where the music – save for a dramatic and more animated central climax – takes on a consistently subdued and melancholy tone. The trumpet, now muted, enters fairly late in the movement, its pensive melodic musings adding to the prevailing reflective atmosphere.

The very short third movement – and airy episode of seemingly aimless piano noodling leading downward into a somberly throbbing strings passage – serves more as an interlude (or prelude) than a complete movement. But then comes the headlong finale, as the piano and strings explode into a frantic, carnival-atmosphere tumble. The trumpet – still not quite an equal partner to the piano – butts in repeatedly, as if goading the other musicians forward, until it gets its own gauche-sounding dance-tune. From there the musical chicanery piles up, with piano and trumpet seeming to compete as reluctant partners in crime. The final furious flurry of notes leaves the listener hanging on by the fingernails as the combined forces hurtle to a frantic finish.

Lindsay Koob, 2013 (

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

♪ Piano Concerto No.1 (Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings) in C minor, Op.35 (1933)

i. Allegro moderato. Allegro vivace. Moderato

ii. Lento
iii. Moderato
iv. Allegro con brio. Presto. Allegretto poco moderato. Allegro con brio

Sergei Redkin, piano

St Petersburg State Capella Symphony Orchestra

Conductor: Alim Shakhmametyev

St Petersburg Music House, January 14, 2015

(HD 1080p)

Sergei Redkin was born in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, on October 27, 1991. He began to play the piano at the age of five. At the age of six he began to study at the Music Lyceum of Krasnoyarsk, in the class of Galina Boguslavskaya. At the same time he began to study improvisation and composition with Eduard Markaich.

In year 2004, after becoming a laureat of the International Gavrilin competition of young composers in Saint Petersburg, Sergei continued his education at the Special Music School of the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, in the class of Olga Kurnavina. At that time Sergei won his first several prizes at competitions for young pianists, such as Rachmaninov competition (Saint Petersburg, 2005, First prize) and Chopin competition (Estonia, 2006, Grand prix). Sergei also played his first solo recitals in Russia and abroad, getting engagements from Germany, Switzerland, Poland.

Simultaneously Sergei studied composition under prof. Alexander Mnatsakanyan, one of the last students of great Shostakovich. Among the young composer's works you can find a string quartet, a trio for winds, chamber music, a lot of music for piano. Suite for cello and piano won the First prize at the young composers' competition in Saint Petersburg in 2007.

In 2008 Sergei was honored to receive the Maestro Temirkanov Award as one of the best students of Saint Petersburg Special Music School.

In year 2009 Sergei successfully passed his entrance exams and became a student of prof. Alexander Sandler at the Saint Petersburg state Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory. He also continued his composition studies under prof. Mnatsakanyan.

During the year 2011 with the support of St Petersburg House of Music Sergei Redkin trained at the famous International Lake Como Piano Academy in Italy, studying under such musicians as William Grant Nabore, Dmitry Bashkirov, Peter Frankl, Fou Ts'ong among others.

In year 2012 Sergei became the winner of III International Maj Lind competition in Helsinki, in 2013 – the winner of VI International Prokofiev competition in Saint Petersburg. In 2015 Sergei Redkin won the Third prize and the Bronze medal at the XV International Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow.

Currently Sergei is continuing his studies under prof. Sandler in Saint Petersburg Conservatory. In 2016 he's playing his first concerts in New York, Mexico and Paris (all with Maestro Valery Gergiev and Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra), touring with solo recitals throughout the world, from Portugal and Israel to Vladivostok and Yakutsk, taking part at prestigious classical music festivals, playing a lot of chamber music and composing in the meantime.


More photos

See also

Sergei Redkin – All the posts

The winners of the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition, 2015

Dmitri Shostakovich – All the posts

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