Dmitri Shostakovich, Frank Bridge – Piano Sonatas – MSR Classics 1679 – 11/2021 58:12 ****½. Sometimes the key to a memorable recital is experiencing two pieces that achieve a surprising but utterly persuasive complementarity. This was my experience with a recent release on the MSR label of two big 20th century piano sonatas. The first by Shostakovich never fails to engage. It has everything of Shostakovich’s most concentrated language of the middle period. (I see the period as marked by the arrival of the largely private chamber works from the second quartet, the piano quintet up through the 8th string quartet) Sparse, contemplative textures, the nod to Klezmer folk melodies, the obsessive working over of a theme in passacaglia form, irony, melodic invention of a neo-classical type. It is a long piece at just under 27 minutes, but never drags or wanders.