I. Allegro II. Andante III. Allegro
Shostakovich composed his first piano concerto (more accurately, “Concerto for piano, trumpet and orchestra”) in 1933 as a vehicle for his own talents, and he was the soloist in its debut. The Concertino for two pianos, written in 1953, was for his son Maxim, who premierd it with a fellow music student, Alla Maloletkova. To help launch Maxim's career as a concert pianist, in 1957 Shostakovich wrote his Piano Concerto No. 2, which was premiered at the 19 year old Maxim's final music college exam. In view of the occasion, it is scored for a relatively small orchestra, and although it was not written as a world-shaking contribution to the genre, it is far more than a “pedagogical work”. Indeed, at its debut in the West, the piano solo was performed by Leonard Bernstein, hardly a student! The individual elements from schools of piano technique can be heard in this concerto, but they are largely ironic – for example, at the beginning of the work, the soloist enters with a melody played in double octaves, or else the parody of the Hanon scale finger exercises that we hear in the finale. We know from Maxim Shostakovich that his father imposed the originals on him, when he was first learning the instrument as a small boy.