by Christina Klessig
Last week, pianist Ignat Solzhenitsyn and violist Hsin-Yun Huang presented an intimate concert at Subculture entitled “Sonatas from the Soviet Era.” Solzhenitsyn, the son of Nobel Prize winning dissident Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, began with Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No.8 in B-flat major. Prokofiev wrote this sonata during the genocide hell that the Soviet Union was experiencing towards the end of World War II, and reflects the conflicting emotions an artist goes through during times of war. The finale burst with anxiety and unstoppable motion; the final chord ‘succumbing to an inevitable release from inner torment.’
Following was Shostakovich's Sonata for Viola and Piano, Op. 147. Huang illuminated this valedictory work, which Shostakovich completed five days before his death. Huang treated every movement as a spiritual contemplation that sped up when it realized it needed to come back to reality’s version of time - much as Shostakovich must have been experiencing at the time. Huang and Solzhenitsyn's meticulous craftsmanship was successful at honoring Shostakovich's end of days.