Piano Trio in a minor, Op.6
It was not for nothing that this incredible work won the 1946 Stalin prize. Those who either hear or play Sviridov's stunning piano trio for the first time will wonder why we never hear this masterpiece in concert. It certainly belongs in the repertoire.
Georgy Sviridov (1915-1998) was born in the Russian town of Fatezh in Kurst province. After studying folk instruments locally, he eventually entered the Leningrad Conservatory where he studied with Shostakovich among others. He spent most of his life in Moscow working as a composer. He wrote primarily for voice and his piano trio is his only chamber music work other than a sonata
The Piano Trio clearly shows the influence of Sviridov's teacher Shostakovich. It is a massive work, written on a grand scale. The first movement, marked Elegy opens with a subdued melody shared by the strings. This mood is brusquely interrupted by a powerful episode in the piano, full of passion and anguish. Given that it was written during the height of Leningrad's struggle for survival against the brutal Nazi attack lengthy siege, and that Sviridov was in the city at the time, most commentators suggest that it is related to this. The second movement, Scherzo, though exciting and energetic is a dance macabre, a devil's dance of death. The trio section, romantic and innocent stands in sharp contrast. Next comes a Funeral March, once again we hear the main subject of the elegy from the first movement, but now it is even more somber and gloomy as befits such a march. The finale, marked Idyll, has a pastoral quality, perhaps connoting that peace has returned to the land, but the movement ends sadly and quietly, a reminder of the tragedy of war.
We searched for the parts to this trio in vain for many years. Recently, we were fortunate to come upon an old copy used by performing artists. The music was printed by the Soviet State Music Publishers nearly 70 years ago on poor quality paper with poor ink. After serving as a performance copy for many years, it was hardly in pristine condition. We have spent many long hours digitally cleaning, removing smudges, detritus and fingerings and correcting errors and have been able to create a serviceable performance edition in order to rescue this masterwork from oblivion. But, it is not pristine like a newly published work nor the equal in quality of a modern edition. The price, less than our generally very low prices, reflects this fact.