Dmitry Shostakovich

Quintet for piano & strings in G minor, Op. 57

    Description by Michael Jameson

    The Quintet for piano and strings in G minor, Op. 57, by Dmitry Shostakovich, was composed in 1940. The work was written in response to an enthusiastic request from the members of the Beethoven String Quartet, one of the former Soviet bloc's most respected chamber ensembles of the period. The group had recently programmed Shostakovich's first string quartet, and had been so impressed by the piece that the players decided unanimously to seek a new piece from the composer, which would also involve a pianist.

    The new work took shape quickly, and Shostakovich completed it on September 14, 1940. Again at the request of the four quartet members, he took the difficult piano part himself at the first performance, given in November 1940 at the Moscow Conservatory. It proved an immediate popular and critical success, and many commentators agreed that the quintet was among Shostakovich's finest creations up until that point. Even the normally frosty Moscow newspapers were unstinting in their praises, with the Literaturnaya Gazeta describing the work in glowing terms as "a portrait of our age...the rich-toned, perfect voice of the present." During 1941, Shostakovich's Piano Quintet received the inaugural Stalin Prize. In addition to the honor and artistic prestige that accompanied the award, the composer also received the coveted cash prize of 100,000 rubles, all of which Shostakovich handed over immediately for the benefit of impoverished Muscovites.

    The quintet is made (somewhat unusually for this chamber genre) of five movements, each of which is in readily accessible populist style, and characterized by clearly etched and powerful melodies. The most substantial section, a fugue, follows a prelude in which the generally public mood of the work begins to be established. After the fugal second movement, there follows a brief, pithy scherzo, and an intermezzo which takes the place of the conventional slow movement, before the work ends with a brilliant finale. Virtuoso scoring and a particularly testing and soloistic piano part continue to make the piano quintet Shostakovich's most frequently played chamber work, perhaps overtaken in popularity only by his String Quartet No. 8.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Prelude. Lento
    2. Fugue. Adagio
    3. Scherzo. Allegretto
    4. Intermezzo. Lento
    5. Finale. Allegretto

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Acousence Classics 13718
    2018 Alpha 360
    2018 Decca
    2017 Melodiya MELCD 1002451
    2017 Melodiya MELCD 1002486
    2017 Decca 4814842
    2016 Somm SOMMCD 0157
    2016 Oehms Classics OC 451
    2016 Praga / Praga Digitals PRD 25036566
    2016 Decca / London
    2015 Hyperion CDA 67987
    2014 La Dolce Volta LDV 263
    2013 Entertainment Group 6120
    2013 Entertainment Group 6124
    2013 Music@Menlo LIVE 201302
    2013 Entertainment Group 6111
    2013 Decca 4785093
    2011 Haenssler / Hänssler Classic 93260
    2011 Transart Live TR162
    2011 Divox 20504
    2011 London Philharmonic Orchestra / LPO LPO0053
    2010 Warner Classics
    2010 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 5099968766
    2010 Praga / Praga Digitals 250270
    2009 CRD Records CRD 3351
    2008 Melodiya 1001077
    2008 Intim Musik 103
    2008 EMI Classics 09428
    2008 Warner Classics
    2007 Brilliant Classics 8128
    2007 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099950450
    2007 Erato
    2007 Virgin Classics 391337
    2007 Elatus
    2007 Onyx ONYX 4026
    2006 Cybele 350301
    2006 Decca
    2006 Decca 475 7425DC5
    2006 Tall Poppies 52
    2006 Sony Music Distribution 79018
    2006 Hyperion 44091
    2005 Northern Flowers 9913
    2005 Parlophone
    2005 Brilliant 7535
    2005 Chandos 10329
    2005 Capriccio Records 67082
    2005 Virgin 59312
    2005 Bridge 9175
    2004 Rca Red Seal 65454
    2004 Hyperion 67158
    2003 Decca
    2003 Decca 4738072
    2002 Naxos 8554830
    2002 Challenge Records 72093
    2001 Teldec 857387820
    2000 Marquis Classics 81183
    2000 RS 176
    2000 Angel Records 61760
    1999 Classico 273
    1999 Sony Classical 60677
    1999 Linn Records 065
    1999 Praga 254042
    1998 Arabesque 6715
    1998 Revelation Records 70005
    1997 Melodiya 40711
    1997 Melodiya 40713
    1996 Edition Abseits 010
    1996 Testament 1077
    1994 Vanguard 8077
    1994 Praga PR7254042
    1993 Centaur Records 2157
    1991 Philips 432079
    1984 Chandos 8342
    Doremi Records 7787
    LYS 369/370
    Foghorn Classics 1988
    Multisonic 310179
    Round Top Records 13
    Brilliant 8128/20
    EMI Music Distribution 47507
    Russian Disc 10031
    Intaglio 756
    Conifer 51194
    Fidelio 8843