Taking inspiration from periods of great upheaval – specifically the two World Wars – The Consoler features two remarkable piano quintets written in early part of the 20th century.
Dimitri Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet was written in 1940 when war had already broken out in Europe. In 1936, the Great Terror began, a political crackdown during which many of Shostakovich’s friends and relatives were imprisoned or killed. Yet the Piano Quintet marked the peak of his return to favour with the Soviet authorities, winning the inaugural 100,000-ruble Stalin Prize in 1941.
While sketches for his work existed from as early as 1908 and 1911, Charles Koechlin composed the bulk of his Piano Quintet between 1917 and 1921, spanning not only the end of World War I in November 1918, but also – pertinently for our times – the outbreak of the Spanish flu pandemic.