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Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony - 70th anniversary
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9099
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Maruss. Why not share your thoughts on cultural matters here? As Expatella_girl and I have written, these matters should/could be of interest to other teachers either here, or thinking of coming over. They are of interest to me, at least.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9099
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi again Expatella_girl!

Oh dear. Don't like Shostakovich? We may need to talk about cultural re-education if you are to be our commissar : )

Seriously, though, he isn't to everybody's liking, that is true. But that is part of the richness of Russian music that you can go from Rachmaninov to Schnittke in just a generation or so. Both of these composers seem to attract equal amounts of adulation and disdain.

So whatever about symphonies, how about chamber music? Perhaps more accessible?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrwBixvbDqk

Can't go wrong with a piano quintet either:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chDbfXozB_4
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9099
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And let's not forget works for solo piano:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uuj5uzgmB5A&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3LZ79VfZ08&feature=related

I have to lie down for a while after listening to this.... The learners really get upset about that too, the philistines!
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9099
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 1:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJRF0JED640&feature=related

That's it. Can't post anything more after this greatness...
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maruss



Joined: 18 Mar 2003
Posts: 998
Location: Cyprus

PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 9:10 pm    Post subject: Wow!! Reply with quote

A russian friend of mine hates Shostakovitch music and says it makes her feel suicidal and at best totally depressed!Mind you she is very emotional and always tends to expect the worst outcome for everything that happens to her!By the way,it is usually believed nowadays that his orchestral works represent his public side and the chamber music his private side.........
For people who have tried listening and still have a problem,like expatella girl,I really recommend the second movement of his second piano concerto which could have been composed by Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninov-you can find it on You Tube and I'd love to know what you think of it.For me it's like moonlight shining on a Russian lake or river and almost moves you to tears........as do many of Tchaikovskys slower compositions,number 1 of course being the ending of the Pathetique symphony for that.Valery Gergiev conducted it at the London Proms just after the Beslan massacre some years ago and the audience were specially instructed beforehand not to applaud afterwards but to simply stay silent and then quietly leave the auditorium.....the effect was quite devastating and unforgetable.
That will do for tonight.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9099
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maruss, that was a really interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

Anyway, our numbers are growing. That's at least four cultural posters so far. Any more?
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maruss



Joined: 18 Mar 2003
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 4:31 pm    Post subject: Hope this is of interest Reply with quote

Perhaps what makes Shostakovitch different from other composers we have mentioned is that many of his compositions have double meanings due to the time in which he lived,when expressing opposition in words meant trouble and could even be fatal!Much was revealed after the end of the Soviet era and especially by a book called 'Testimony' by Simeon Volkov which still causes controversy even today more than 35 years since the composer died.
The fifth symphony,his most famous and probably the easiest to listen to is a very good example:this music probably saved the composer from the Gulag and helped him to regain Stalins approval,but it still didn't stop the Russian public from hearing beyond the official description of what it represents:religion and praying were against the party line in the 1930's when it was first performed-millions had already been arrested and even executed,yet the third movement in particular contains clear motives which recall the Russian Orthodox Panichida,or requiem mass.The audience reportedly openly wept at the premier of this work which is probably unequalled in its emotional intensity among all the composers music.Even though it is performed by a well-known US orchestra, the hour long video analysis performance of this symphony by Michael Tillson Thomas is well worth watching and is available free on line.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9099
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Certainly is. Thanks again, Maruss!

I have not yet read 'Testament', but have read Solomom Volkov's 'Shostakovich and Stalin'. Whatever about academic solidity, it makes for gripping reading. As does his 'The Magical Chorus'. I have another book, 'The New Shostakovich', by Ian MacDonald, waiting patiently on my bookshelf. Will probably get stuck into it next, so inspired am I now.

Also, the DVD 'Shostakovich against Stalin: The War Symphonies' is well worth a look, despite the grainy, cheapy video quality in spots.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCUxv7YHEgU
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maruss



Joined: 18 Mar 2003
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Location: Cyprus

PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 8:37 pm    Post subject: Read it Sasha! Reply with quote

The late Ian Macdonalds revised version of his book on Shostakovitch and his music is a must read and contains some additional chapters with links to George Orwell and 1984 etc.
As for the DVD with Valery Gergiev,there are some fascinating interviews in it,including Shostakovitch daughter Galina.
There has been so much speculation about the real meaning of this composers music since the end of the Soviet era and it is still going on,but many people find his music very compelling and in recent years it has been much more frequently performed outside Russia than before,even if it is often sombre and even morbid at times.
The most famous of his quartets is probably the 8th which conductor Rudolf Barshai has also orchestrated.Officially he dedicated it to the 'victims of war and fascism' and it was written after he visited the ruined city of Dresden in the early post war years.But delve into it more deeply and you discover not only the musical signature DsCh which represents his name but will also learn that he was forced to join the Communist party at this time,something which filled him with despair...if any chamber music can convey this feeling,the end of this quartet has to be it......definitely not recommended for listening to alone on a dark and miserable evening when you are already feeling down in the dumps!
Equally bleak is his final and 15th quartet when he knew that death was approaching.Once asked if he was religious and believed in God,he replied 'unfortunately not'.......
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some great info there, Maruss - cheers again.
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maruss



Joined: 18 Mar 2003
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 4:13 pm    Post subject: glad you found it interesting..... Reply with quote

His last symphony,the 15th contains a lot of hidden meanings too and the late conductor Kurt Sanderling described it as one othe composers 'most radically horrible works for it's implications'-the opening movement which was officially referred to as 'memories of childhood with a clear sky above' soon becomes a nightmare world of puppets and automatons,rather than an innocent one of childrens toys,perhaps portraying Soviet society where people behaved in a certain way that was expected of them,rather than as they wanted to. Also remember that the famous Detskiy Mir toyshop is opposite the Lubyanka!The second movement represents another aspect of life,equally terrifying where the funeral march climaxes in a devastating dissonance which someone described as 'like a bomb exploding'.. the coda of this movement contains some spine-chilling music which Shostakovitch was able to write so effectively,the ending of the 4th symphony being another example.
The last movement is equally enigmatic and ends with the mysterious percussion section,perhaps suggesting the passing of time during which nothing really changes?The composer frequently despared at how the system had become fossilised during his lifetime,especially during the Brezhnev era and maybe this depicts his frustration that even the younger generation did not seem capable of changing anything....
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9099
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi guys. Was thinking of you all this evening.

What a splendid evening it was too! A night at the Small Hall in the Tchaikovsky Conservatory. The Borodin Quartet played some Haydin and Beethoven string quartets. Wonderful. But for me the highlight was the performances of Shostakovich's String Quartets No 1 and No 8.

As you mentioned, Maruss, it was announced that the No 8 was dedicated to the victims of fascism. Electrifying playing! I know it is a little silly of me, but seeing the players play is almost as much of a delight as hearing the music live. All those long sustained notes slowly bowed! Magical. When it was over, there was a suspended silence for a few seconds, after which everybody exploded into applause. Though perhaps stunned silence would have been a more appropriate reaction...

Been a great day so far. Watched Andrei Rublev again. Bought a collection of short stories by Andrei Platonov. Went to this concert. Can it get any better than this?! What more could a teacher working in Moscow ask for? Hic! Oh, yes, just 200 grammes perhaps... : )
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
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Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trh1fhbotTw
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maruss



Joined: 18 Mar 2003
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:59 pm    Post subject: Wish I had been there too........ Reply with quote

Applauding after the Shostakovitch 8th quartet seems as out of place as applauding after Tchaikovsky's Pathetique symphony.....they both end with music which is poignantly despairing but are vastly different in style and form of course.What each composer had in mind when they composed them is of course perhaps the most tempting enigma of all?
By the way,there is a lot of Mahlers nightmare grotesqueness in the quartet,especially that frenzied dance and also some quotations from traditional songs,one of which he later used in the 11th Symphony,another composition which is so compelling to listen to,even though western music critics for years derided it as 'film music' with a Soviet propaganda title,'The year 1905'.....however when you consider that it was written in 1956 after what happened in Budapest,it's hidden universal message becomes clear,as Ian Mac Donald describes so well in his book.
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