This eloquent recital, added as a last minute addition to the Festival program, provided an ideal and appropriate coupling for contemporary troubled times. Given the catastrophic news coming out of Ukraine, Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet proved an ideal choice.

Pianist Konstantin Shamray gave a short introduction wherein he spoke of the difficulty in speaking out against the Russian invasioneven by expats domiciled here in Australia, fearing for loved ones back home in Russia. Shamray himself stated that he was not afraid of any such repercussions and how Shostakovich was a perfect choice to perform. Of course the composer faced many problems with the totalitarian system of the time, going in and out of favour with the bureaucrats. It was his being silenced after the premiere of his controversial opera, Lady Macbeth of Mtsenskwhich led to his focus upon chamber music and one of the works to arise from this internal exile was this five movement piano quintet. The pianist described the composer as a “lone voice crying out in the wilderness in opposition to crushing forces”. How appropriate indeed!

Konstantin Shamray