Jon Lee


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Shostakovich Piano Trio no. 2 in e minor, op. 67

Program Notes

I cannot express in words all the grief I felt when I received the news of the death of Ivan… He was my closest friend. I owe all my education to him. It will be unbelievably hard for me to live without him.

Shostakovich, to Sollertinsky’s widow

Composed in the summer of 1944, Shostakovich wrote the trio in memory of one of his closest friends, Ivan Sollertinsky, who had died the February before. The tribute is not wholly lachrymose, but the bereavement is palpable in the first movement’s elegiac introduction and the third movement’s somberness.

Ravel Piano Trio in a minor

Program Notes

I think that at any moment I shall go mad or lose my mind. I have never worked so hard, with such insane heroic rage.


The source of Ravel’s rage was the dawn of World War I, and the output of his labor was his Piano Trio.

Mendelssohn Piano Trio no. 2 in c minor, op. 66

Program Notes

Mendelssohn’s second piano trio was completed in 1845, two years before the end of his short life. The piece is laid out on a large scale, featuring soaring, lyrical melodies and intricate, virtuosic passagework for the three instruments. Mendelssohn, who played piano in the first performances, was joined by the famous violinist Louis Spohr, to whom the piece is dedicated.

Brahms Piano Quartet no. 3 in c minor, op. 60

Program Notes

You may place a picture on the title page, namely a head—with a pistol in front of it. This will give you some idea of the music. I shall send you a photograph of myself for the purpose. Blue coat, yellow breeches, and top-boots would do well, as you seem to like color printing.

Brahms, to his publisher

Brahms first worked on the C minor piano quartet from 1854 to 1856, a period of great strain and anxiety for the young composer. With his benefactor and dear friend Robert Schumann suffering with severe mental illness, Brahms found himself torn between fidelity to Robert and deep affection for Clara, Schumann’s wife. When Robert was hospitalized, Brahms rushed to Düsseldorf to help Clara and her seven children, writing to her, “Would to God that I were allowed this day… to repeat to you with my own lips that I am dying for love of you.” He remained with her only until Schumann died in July 1856.