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The composition was dedicated to Shostakovich's good friend, Ivan Sollertinsky, a Russian polymath and avid musician, who had recently died aged 41. The work received its premiere in Leningrad on 14 November 1944. The piece consists of four movements, with a complete performance running 25 to 27 minutes.
- Andante – Highly dissonant, it begins with an extremely difficult passage in the cello, all harmonics. The rest of the movement starts with canonic material, but then develops into a sonata form, requiring incredible amounts of technical prowess from all three instruments.
- Allegro con brio – A frenzied dance that never finds a settling place.
- Largo – Against a repeated background of piano chords, the violin and cello trade off dark, slow, and somber melodic lines. It fades into the last movement with hardly a break.
- Allegretto – Staccato repeated notes begin this "Dance of Death" movement, which introduces a Jewish-style melody, and revisits the thematic content of the previous three movements. It ends in a tortured E major chord, almost inaudibly.
The Jewish melody from the last movement was quoted in Shostakovich's famous String Quartet No. 8. The third movement is featured in choreographer John Neumeier's ballet "The Seagull" (Hamburg, 2002).
- David Oistrakh, Miloš Sádlo, Dmitri Shostakovich (1946)
- Leonid Kogan, Mstislav Rostropovich, Emil Gilels (1959)
- David Oistrakh, Sviatoslav Knushevitsky, Lev Oborin (1961)
- Mikhail Vaiman, Mstislav Rostropovich, Pavel Serebryakov (live, 1976)
- Oleg Kagan, Natalia Gutman, Sviatoslav Richter (live, 1980s)
- Elisabeth Leonskaya, Borodin Quartet (1995)
- Gidon Kremer, Mischa Maisky, Martha Argerich (live, 1999)
- Vladimir Ashkenazy, Mats Lidström, Zsolt-Tihamér Visontay (2015)
- Isaac Stern, Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax
- Joshua Bell, Olli Mustonen, Steven Isserlis
- Beaux Arts Trio
- Borodin Trio