by Robert Rollin
Last Sunday afternoon the Suburban Symphony presented an interesting “All Russian Program” at the University School Shaker Campus’s Conway Hall, an acoustically effective six hundred seat auditorium. The highlight was an excellent performance of the rarely heard Shostakovich Concerto for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra, Opus 35 with Angelin Chang as piano soloist. Chang chairs the Keyboard Department at Cleveland State University. The unusual instrumentation made for a transparent orchestral texture that combined well with Chang’s wonderful musical exuberance and skill.
Shostakovich wrote this humorous and witty piece at age twenty-seven, premiering the piano part himself, accompanied by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. The Concerto precipitated the composer’s first difficulties with Stalin that were to trouble him for many years, though the piece’s tongue-in-cheek character, similar to that of his Tahiti Trot, composed four years earlier, makes Stalin’s distaste all the more incomprehensible.
Chang’s alert and intense performance of the opening Allegretto fairly sparkled and seemed to sweep up the orchestra in her wake. [Read more…]