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Shostakovich, Dmitri, Part I

"He forged a musical language of colossal emotional power" says Grove’s Dictionary.  This week will be the first of a two-part series exploring the life and times of Dmitri Shostakovich. From his four-note "D-Es-C-H" signature to the musical sounds of the KGB knocking on his door, Bill will help us understand these hidden meanings in his music. Born in Tsarist Russia and living through the establishment of the USSR, his music reflects all of these political changes with emotional depth for the world to hear. Also, having his ear to the ground for music from other places, we will hear his Tahiti Trot and waltzes.

Program 1

The first of ten hours on the great Russian/Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich begins with several youthful works: Five Preludes for Piano, Three Fantastic Dances and Trio No. 1 for Piano and Strings before moving on to an in-depth look at his astonishing Symphony No. 1, written while Shostakovich was still a teenager.

Bill draws on Elizabeth Wilson's book, Shostakovich: A Life Remembered to provide an overview of his childhood and the start of his career as a composer growing up St. Petersburg, which by the time Shostakovich was a young man had been renamed Petrograd and then Leningrad as a result of the Soviet Revolution.

Shostakovich: Five Preludes for piano (excerpts)
Ashkenazy, p.
Lon B0001846-02
2:09, 2:09

Shostakovich: Three Fantastic Dances, Op. 5
Shostakovich, p.
EMI 62648

Shostakovich: Trio No.1 for Piano and Strings, Op. 8, I
Laredo, v.; Robinson, vc.; Kalichstein, p.
11:53, :30

Shostakovich: Symphony No.1 in f minor, Op. 10
Royal Philharmonic/Ashkenazy
Lon 425609
12:40, 19:20


Program 2

Having been elevated to world fame at the age of 18 thanks to his first symphony, Shostakovich quickly went on to explore many musical forms in his early twenties. In this hour Bill features excerpts from his Aphorisms for Piano (abstract pieces with weird intervals inspired by earlier piano works by Prokofiev), the Suite from his Stalin era 'factory' ballet The Bolt from 1931, the final movement from his Symphony No. 2 written in honor of the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution (featuring a choral setting of a poem by Mayakovsky) and the finally his Tahiti Trot (a playful orchestration of "Tea For Two" that Shostakovich made in 45 minutes in order to win a bet).

Shostakovich: Aphorisms for Piano, Op. 13 (excerpts)
Ashkenazy, p.
Lon B0001846-02

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4, I (excerpt)
Lon 414192

Shostakovich: Suite fr. The Bolt, Op. 27a (excerpts)
Philadelphia Orch/Chailly
Lon 452497

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 2 in B-flat Major, To October, Op. 14
LSO/ Rostropovich
Teldec 17046
18:53, :27

Shostakovich: Tahiti Trot
Royal Concertge-bouw/Chailly
Lon 433702


Program 3

The hour begins with a suite from Shostakovich's first ballet "The Golden Age" from 1930. The ballet tells the story of members of a Soviet football (soccer) team who travel to the west and foil their capitalist opponents (and includes a polka that became immensely popular). Then Bill turns to Shostakovich's Symphony No. 3 (May Day) from 1929 and the Suite from his experimental opera based on Gogol's story, "The Nose."

Shostakovich: Suite fr. The Golden Age, Op. 22a
Prague Symphony/M.Shostakovich
Supraphon 3278-2

Shosatkovich: Symphony, No.3 in E-flat Major, First of May, Op. 20 (excerpts)
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Jansons
EMI 56830
6:27, 8:16

Shostakovich: Suite fr. The Nose, Op. 15a (excerpts)
Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra of the Moscow Chamber Opera/Rozhdestvensky
Melodiya 60319


Program 4

In this hour Bill focuses on Shostakovich and the piano beginning with several of Prokofiev's Visions Fugitives which were a likely inspiration for the young Shostakovich before turning to Shostakovich's own Preludes for Piano (which, following the model of Chopin, covers the spectrum of the 24 keys). 

Next is the Concerto No. 1 for Piano, Trumpet and Orchestra from 1933 and then the opera Lady MacBeth of the Mtsensk District which became an immense hit before provoking the wrath of Stalin (the next hour takes a more extensive look at Lady MacBeth).

Shostakovich: Waltz fr.Jazz Suite No. 1 (excerpt)
Royal Concertgebouw/Chailly
Lon 433702
1:34, 2:35

Prokofiev: Visions Fugitives for Piano, I, IV & XIII 
Mustonen, p.
Lon 444803

Shostakovich: 24 Preludes for Piano,Op. 34, II, XI & XVII
Scherbakov, p.
Naxos 8.555781

Shostakovich: 24 Preludes, arr. for Piano and Violin, XV, X, & XXIV
Kogan, v.; Shostakovich, p.
Eclectra 2067

Shostakovich: Concerto No.1 in c minor for Piano,Trumpet and Orchestra, Op. 35
LA Phil/Salonen; Bronfman, p.; Stevens, tpt.
Sony 60677

Shostakovich: Lady MacBeth of the Mtsensk District (excerpt)
Bastille Opera Chorus and Orchestra/Chung
Lon 677002


Program 5

Continuing the exploration of Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk, the show begins with the chorus of the convicts and then an enchanting love duet between Katerina (Lady Macbeth) and her lover Sergei (which Bill compares to Lana Turner and John Garfield in the film The Postman Always Rings Twice).

Stalin's wrath descended on Shostakovich with the famous "Muddle Instead of Music" article that appeared in Pravda. This bitter denunciation, declared him a formalist. In the meantime, Shostakovich finished his massive and enigmatic, Mahler inspired Symphony No. 4 written in 1936 but heard until the 1960s, which Bill explores in detail. The week ends with the lyric Sonata for Violoncello and Piano widely viewed at Shostakovich first major chamber work.


Shostakovich: Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk (excerpts)
Bastille Opera Chorus and Orchestra/Chung
Lon 677002
6:03, 5:42, 1:23

Shostakovich: Arrival of the Police fr. Lady Macbeth
Cologne Philharmonic/Conlon
Capriccio 10892

Shostakovich: Symphony No.4 in c minor, Op. 43 (excerpts)
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/Rattle
EMI 55476
1:40, 3:16,  2:14, 14:30

Shostakovich: Sonata for Violoncello and Piano, Op. 40, I
Harrell, vc.; Ashkenazy, p.
Lon 421174



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