Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major, Op. 102
b. St. Petersburg, Russia / September 25, 1906; d. Moscow, Russia / August 9, 1975
For several generations, the members of the Shostakovich family have enjoyed extremely close relationships, sharing both their lives and their art. To Dmitry’s children, his son Maxim in particular, he gave many kinds of devotion. Maxim showed exceptional musical gifts from an early age. As his talents grew, so did his father’s interest in them. For Maxim and his sister Galya, Dmitry composed several volumes of increasingly difficult piano studies, and then, for Maxim and himself to play, a carefree Concertino for two pianos.
“But my dream,” Maxim has written, “was for a big, serious piano concerto. Finally, my perseverance was rewarded, and to my enormous joy, the concerto was written. I was especially proud of the fact that my father dedicated it to me. Learning the score when it was still fresh, I often rehearsed it on two pianos with him. We argued, and I defended heatedly my youthful ideas. I recall that in musical circles, when it became known that father had written this concerto especially for me, it was jokingly noted, ‘Have you heard that Shostakovich has composed a new concerto for Maxim and orchestra?’ At last, on my nineteenth birthday (May 10, 1957), the first performance took place, in Moscow.” Nikolai Anosov conducted the USSR Sate Symphony Orchestra. Maxim later traded in the piano for a baton, becoming a noted conductor of his father’s and other composers’ music.
Befitting the concerto’s youthful dedicatee, and the prankish side of the composer’s personality, it brims over with energy and impudent high spirits. The finale contains clear parodies of the monotonous finger exercises that young Maxim, like all piano students, was forced to endure. The second movement offers total contrast. In its tender wistfulness, it makes the father’s feelings for the son perfectly clear.