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Serenata of Santa Fe concert celebrates 3 Russian composers

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The composers Khachaturian, Prokofiev and Shostakovich formed a musical triumvirate after the Russian Revolution.

David Felberg

Both elevated and reviled, depending on Stalin’s degree of brutality, they forged a sound at once tragic and rhapsodic. In 1943, the secretary of the Communist Party denounced the work of all three composers as “anti-people,” as in too difficult to understand.

Serenata of Santa Fe will perform a program by the trio at Santa Fe’s First Presbyterian Church on Saturday, Jan. 20. Musicians David Felberg (violin), Ruxandra Marquardt (violin), Dana Winograd (cello), Keith Lemmons (clarinet) and Debra Ayers (piano) will perform three pieces.

“They had a revolutionary kind of spirit,” Serenata artistic director Pamela Epple said. “In the ’30s, Stalin was in power. He had a lot of control. These three composers were kind of the patriarchs of this, even though they fell in and out of favor.”

Keith Lemmons

The concert will open with Khachaturian’s Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano in G minor (1932). The composer wrote only two pieces of chamber music in his lifetime. His symphonic and ballet music is more well-known.

“It’s an unusual piece, and it’s not done very often,” Epple said.

Prokofiev’s Sonata for Two Violins, op. 56 in C major (1932) took shape as the result of a bad concert.

“The reason Prokofiev wrote this particular piece is he heard a bad duo for two violins,” Epple said. “He said, ‘In spite of the limitations of a duet, one could make it interesting for 10-15 minutes.’ ”

Both Prokofiev and Shostakovich delved into the tragic as well as the exotic, in their music, she added. Shostakovich sometimes incorporated folk music into his themes.

Shostakovich completed his Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor in 1944. The composition was dedicated to his good friend, Ivan Sollertinsky, a Russian polymath and avid musician, who had recently died at age 41.

“It really grew out of a national tragedy,” Epple said. Shostakovich “said it was unbelievably hard to live without him. So Shostakovich really made this more of an elegiac piece. It has elements of discord and deep, deep sadness. It’s one of the most moving pieces of chamber music that I’ve ever heard.”