Review: Two quintets with Haydn in the middle

A review of the Drozdov and Shostakovich Quintets, which I played last week in Philadelphia with the Aizuri Quartet. 

The novelty of the program was Anatoly Drozdov’s 1920 Quintet. Drozdov (1883-1950), a pianist whose compositions heavily feature his instrument, was a close contemporary of Nikolai Myaskovsky, who’s not exactly a household name either, although his 10th Symphony was performed at this year’s Philadelphia Orchestra concerts.

Both men, along with the elder statesman Alexander Glazunov, helped keep the flame of Russian music alive in the difficult days after the 1917 Revolution, when its chief luminaries—Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, and Prokofiev—either emigrated or remained abroad (Prokofiev returned to stay after 1933, lured by homesickness rather than Bolshevism).

Like his mentor Alexander Scriabin, Drozdov experimented with a musical chromaticism that pushed the bounds of tonality without ever quite abandoning them. His Piano Quintet, a 25-minute work in one movement, is among his more substantial compositions. By turns brooding, dreamy, and agitated, it is unlikely to achieve repertory status, but it is a serious work and proved well worth hearing.
— Robert Zaller, Broad Street Review