Monday, February 13, 2006

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

Overshadowed by Mozart's 250th, this year is also Dmitri Shostakovich's 100th birthday. Shostakovich was one of the most brilliant composers of the past century, and his normal composing style- always seemingly on the verge of descending into atonal chaos, but ultimately staying intensely tonal- is instantly recognizable. Living and working in Soviet Russia, where he was constantly pressured to write tributes to Stalin and the gang, could have been creatively crippling. But he was able to subtly and sarcastically undermine their authority until Stalin's death, when he was given more creative freedom. Although he is very well known for his symphonies, he was also an amazing chamber music composer. In honor of his birthday, I will eventually post all 15 of Shostakovich's string quartets, which are the best since Bartok's. Today, we will begin with two Shostakovich links: His relatively straightforward but mature first quartet (1935) and, in response to a request, a little-known, very funny and parodic opera called Cheryomushki.

Shostakovich Quartet 1- Fitzwilliam Quartet

By the way, all of the quartets are recordings by the Fitzwilliam Quartet, who worked with Shostakovich himself and premiered at least one of his quartets.

Cheryomushki (English version)- Pimlico Opera

Requests? Feedback? Feel free to leave a comment.


At February 15, 2006, Blogger wyneken said...

Thank you so much for the Shostakovich!

Cheryomushki is just as much fun as I remembered it from a casual, incomplete hearing several years ago -- this very recording, if I'm not mistaken.

I don't know this man's string quartets so well, so I look forward to setting down with this one.

warm regards

At February 16, 2006, Blogger Sam said...

I'm glad you like it, Stav. The recording comes from a hard-to-find BBC CD- did you first hear it on the BBC?


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