The late great Russian trumpet virtuoso Timofei Dokshizer said that his greatest regrets were not being pushier to Shostakovich and Prokofiev about writing proper trumpet concertos. It's tantalizing to think about what either of those amazing creative minds would have written, but what we're left with as solo repertoire, in addition to the incredible orchestral writing of them both, is Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 1.
It is a singularly quirky piece. Before even a note is played, the strange notion of a concerto for piano and strings having an additional soloist (let alone a trumpet!) sitting up front is unique. The first movement, by turns brooding and giocoso, is followed by a beautiful second movement which includes a famous trumpet solo which uses the very bottom of the normal range of the instrument. The third movement is a short, romantic transition into the fourth, which starts in a somewhat serious character, but soon turns into one of the most ludicrous romps in the repertoire. Truly silly writing is interspersed with old-timey saloon music, a caricature of a trumpet solo, quotes from piano pieces by Beethoven and Haydn (sometimes in the trumpet part!), and a runaway train of an ending, more like a Buster Keaton movie than a white-tie occasion.
It's a fresh and youthful piece, and very different from the music that led to and followed his official denouncement by the state in 1936. Having played the much later Tenth Symphony two weeks prior to this, the impact of the years and events between the two pieces is made plain.
This will be my first time performing this piece, and I'm really looking forward to it. It's always a pleasure to be invited to the front of the stage, and playing with one's own orchestra is a particularly happy occasion!