This is especially true as all of the music is of high quality and lacks both the trivial material that mars so much of his work, and the bleak despair of some of his last quartets. The most attractive work is the Piano Quintet which was written between the Stalinist terror of the late 1930s and the Nazi invasion of 1941, a period when life was fairly secure and consumer goods had become more readily available.
On the other hand, the great Piano Trio of 1944 reflects the horrors and privations suffered by the Russian people during the war. The “Jewish” theme of the finale is interpreted now – and was at the time – as a reference to the persecution of the Jews both in Nazi-occupied Europe and the Soviet Union. The Quartet No. 3, written just after the war, begins , according to the composer himself, with a movement describing the “bliss of ignorance” followed by other movements related to the atrocities of the war and a final movement asking the meaning of life itself. Both this and the Quartet No. 7, a depiction of the composer’s late wife, contain moments of real lyrical beauty of which any composer would be proud.
The Cello Sonata, an early work, is also in this vein.All the performances are more than adequate and some, such as the Jerusalem Quartet’s performance of No. 3 and Schiff’s of the Sonata are outstanding.