Monday, September 25, 2006

Second Cup | Dmitri Shostakovich

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of composer Dmitri Shostakovich. NPR this morning did a special feature on him that I was really intrigued by.

September 25, 1906 - St. Petersburg, Russia

Hearing History in Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony by Marin Alsop
For example, how fast should it be played? At the very end of the symphony, Shostakovich's original tempo marking is quite slow. But Leonard Bernstein doubled the tempo in his recording with the New York Philharmonic, and Shostakovich thought it worked very well.

For me, this is a defining moment in the symphony, determined by the entirety of the last movement, and even the journey of the entire piece. I hear the last movement as a gradual acceleration of forces, an increasing sense of hysteria and loss of control until things break down and the fanfare (like the theme) becomes almost nightmarish in sound.

Three Must-Have Shostakovich Recordings by Melody Joy Kramer
Immersing yourself in Dmitri Shostakovich's complete works would take days, but familiarizing yourself with his music should take no more than an afternoon. And it will not be painful.

Read the full features here:
NPR: Shostakovich, Man of Many Variations


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