Author Topic: Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932)  (Read 9102 times)

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Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932)
« Reply #40 on: April 12, 2020, 02:01:54 AM »
There was a somewhat embittered exchange between Shchedrin and the music critic David Fanning:
https://web.archive.org/web/20070101045513/http://home.wanadoo.nl/ovar/sovrev/shchfan.htm

Here's Shchedrin during what David Fanning describes as his 'leather jacket phase':


Very interesting to read those two 'critiques'.  I must admit I have always enjoyed Shchedrin's music from the time I bought an original Melodiya LP of "Naughty Ditties" (or however you wish to translate it!) from the Soviet Bookshop on Charing Cross Road(was it there?) around 1980.  For sure Shchedrin's reply to "just criticism"(!?) is rather defensive by why wouldn't he be.  As be says; "we've all made compromises".  I think it is very easy to make judgements about artists and the choices they made whether Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany.  Some of course were fanatical believers in the regimes, many simply sought a way to get by - and how many of us can be certain we would not choose the same facilitating path.  Certainly Fanning comes across as being a bit too much on the moral high ground for me..... 

For years I chose not to listen to any Tikhon Khrennikov because of his alignment with the Soviet state.  Then I heard the disc of his 3 Symphonies and they are really rather good;



for sure not utterly original but certainly worth a listen if the style is of interest.  Does it diminish his culpability for anything else he did - for sure not, but it must be for an individual listener to judge the 'worth' of an piece of Art against its creator's wider moral compass.

Offline relm1

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Re: Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932)
« Reply #41 on: April 12, 2020, 05:26:27 AM »
Very interesting to read those two 'critiques'.  I must admit I have always enjoyed Shchedrin's music from the time I bought an original Melodiya LP of "Naughty Ditties" (or however you wish to translate it!) from the Soviet Bookshop on Charing Cross Road(was it there?) around 1980.  For sure Shchedrin's reply to "just criticism"(!?) is rather defensive by why wouldn't he be.  As be says; "we've all made compromises".  I think it is very easy to make judgements about artists and the choices they made whether Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany.  Some of course were fanatical believers in the regimes, many simply sought a way to get by - and how many of us can be certain we would not choose the same facilitating path.  Certainly Fanning comes across as being a bit too much on the moral high ground for me..... 

For years I chose not to listen to any Tikhon Khrennikov because of his alignment with the Soviet state.  Then I heard the disc of his 3 Symphonies and they are really rather good;



for sure not utterly original but certainly worth a listen if the style is of interest.  Does it diminish his culpability for anything else he did - for sure not, but it must be for an individual listener to judge the 'worth' of an piece of Art against its creator's wider moral compass.

You made some good points.  Remind me of what Khrennikov is culpable for other than aligning with the Soviet state?

Offline Maestro267

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Re: Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932)
« Reply #42 on: April 12, 2020, 08:42:24 AM »
I'd say it was considerably more than merely "aligning with the Soviet state". Stalin and Zhdanov appointed Khrennikov as Secretary of the Union of Soviet Composers, a post he held for over 40 years, from 1948 (a pivotal year if you know the history of Shostakovich et al.) until the USSR collapsed in 1991.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932)
« Reply #43 on: April 12, 2020, 09:56:11 AM »
Very interesting to read those two 'critiques'.  I must admit I have always enjoyed Shchedrin's music from the time I bought an original Melodiya LP of "Naughty Ditties" (or however you wish to translate it!) from the Soviet Bookshop on Charing Cross Road(was it there?) around 1980.  For sure Shchedrin's reply to "just criticism"(!?) is rather defensive by why wouldn't he be.  As be says; "we've all made compromises".  I think it is very easy to make judgements about artists and the choices they made whether Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany.  Some of course were fanatical believers in the regimes, many simply sought a way to get by - and how many of us can be certain we would not choose the same facilitating path.  Certainly Fanning comes across as being a bit too much on the moral high ground for me..... 

For years I chose not to listen to any Tikhon Khrennikov because of his alignment with the Soviet state.  Then I heard the disc of his 3 Symphonies and they are really rather good;



for sure not utterly original but certainly worth a listen if the style is of interest.  Does it diminish his culpability for anything else he did - for sure not, but it must be for an individual listener to judge the 'worth' of an piece of Art against its creator's wider moral compass.
I had an unusual experience on New Year's Day 1986. I was in the USSR on holiday with a group of eight friends. We'd agreed to go to the Bolshoi Ballet but the others were still hung over from the night before. So I went on my own. The ballet was pleasant enough but fairly banal. I didn't recognise what it was and the programme notes were all in Russian. Them, at the end, a spotlight focused on one of the boxes in the Bolshoi and there he was! Tikhon Khrenninikov! I recognised him from photos. So I have actually seen him. I have that CD as well and regard the Second Symphony as catchy and memorable and, in its slow movement, not lacking in depth.

PS Yes, I was very familiar with that Soviet bookshop on the Charing Cross Road and made many great LP discoveries there. Miaskovsky's 11th Symphony conducted by Dudarova for starters.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2020, 10:01:17 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932)
« Reply #44 on: April 14, 2020, 02:20:31 AM »
I had an unusual experience on New Year's Day 1986. I was in the USSR on holiday with a group of eight friends. We'd agreed to go to the Bolshoi Ballet but the others were still hung over from the night before. So I went on my own. The ballet was pleasant enough but fairly banal. I didn't recognise what it was and the programme notes were all in Russian. Them, at the end, a spotlight focused on one of the boxes in the Bolshoi and there he was! Tikhon Khrenninikov! I recognised him from photos. So I have actually seen him. I have that CD as well and regard the Second Symphony as catchy and memorable and, in its slow movement, not lacking in depth.

PS Yes, I was very familiar with that Soviet bookshop on the Charing Cross Road and made many great LP discoveries there. Miaskovsky's 11th Symphony conducted by Dudarova for starters.

Proof of how powerful smell is as far as memory is concerned......  When I used to buy original Melodiya LP's from the Soviet Bookshop I remember that they had a very distinct actually rather unpleasant smell about them.  That and the fact that they came in just a plastic inner sleeve which made them a right royal pain to get in and out of the cardboard jacket without everything rucking up.  A first world problem if ever there was! (also the pressings could be pretty dodgy too)

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932)
« Reply #45 on: April 14, 2020, 03:05:57 AM »
Proof of how powerful smell is as far as memory is concerned......  When I used to buy original Melodiya LP's from the Soviet Bookshop I remember that they had a very distinct actually rather unpleasant smell about them.  That and the fact that they came in just a plastic inner sleeve which made them a right royal pain to get in and out of the cardboard jacket without everything rucking up.  A first world problem if ever there was! (also the pressings could be pretty dodgy too)
I recall that the vinyl was often very hard and thicker than usual. Yes, Kabalevsky's 4th Symphony came in a white plain cardboard sleeve I recall. Shchedrin's First Symphony featured the 'leather jacket' image that David Fanning highlighted.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Irons

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Re: Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932)
« Reply #46 on: April 14, 2020, 10:53:25 PM »
I recall that the vinyl was often very hard and thicker than usual. Yes, Kabalevsky's 4th Symphony came in a white plain cardboard sleeve I recall. Shchedrin's First Symphony featured the 'leather jacket' image that David Fanning highlighted.

What is good for the goose.........

You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932)
« Reply #47 on: April 15, 2020, 04:48:02 AM »
What is good for the goose.........
Excellent!
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932)
« Reply #48 on: April 15, 2020, 11:22:25 AM »
Excellent!

That Heldenleben is the one with the big trumpet split that Karajan reckoned no one would notice.......

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932)
« Reply #49 on: June 16, 2020, 08:43:26 AM »
Well, it’s time resurrect this thread as the last post was about Strauss with no mention of Shchedrin whatever. :-\ Anyway, I love this composer’s music and have really come to admire many of his works. I love ALL five of the Concertos for Orchestra. These are such remarkable pieces. Everyone talks about the ballet Carmen Suite and while I do enjoy it, it makes wonder whether they’ve heard his other four ballets: The Humpbacked Horse, Anna Karenina, The Seagull or The Lady with a Lapdog (provocative title!)? The only one I had a bit difficulty appreciating in its entirety was The Seagull. I should come back to this work. I’ve loved all of the concerti I’ve heard so far: Piano Concertos Nos. 1-4, Cello Concerto and Concerto Cantabile. The first symphony is fantastic, but I’m less sure about the 2nd as it didn’t really grab me, but I think I should give the Rozhdestvensky recording a listen (I own the Sinaisky recording on Chandos). Some other fantastic works: Russian Photographs, The Sealed Angel, Self-Portrait and Stikhira. I’m afraid I don’t know the solo piano and chamber music, but I do plan on rectifying this as soon as I can.
“Works of art create rules; rules do not create works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932)
« Reply #50 on: June 16, 2020, 01:00:00 PM »
I really like Shchedrin's opera Dead Souls, but I'm also a Gogol enthusiast. It seems slightly unfortunate that the opera includes considerable material from the sometimes maligned (see Vladimir Nabokov's Nikolai Gogol) Volume 2, but it's still fun.
Don't know about the aesthetic merits of Carmen Suite, but I enjoy the Naxos recording.
Shchedrin is an outstanding pianist. I had recordings of his Preludes and Fugues and Polyphonic Notebook, but my interest faded and I think I sold them.

Over the years on various forums, I've read some politically oriented criticism of R.S., seemingly for achieving prominence via currying favor with the Kremlin...I don't know enough to evaluate the situation.

Knowing a composer’s political views doesn’t really change how I feel about the music and it’s a damn shame when someone uses it as a criticism against them and then do a disservice to the composer by not even listening to any of their music. The Carmen Suite is, undoubtedly, the most recorded Shchedrin work from what I’ve seen and I do think it’s popularity overshadows what are, IMHO, even finer works. I haven’t heard any of Shchedrin’s operas, but I don’t really have much interest in them. I do, however, own a recording of The Enchanted Wanderer, but I think my reasoning for buying it back then was that I got it at a ridiculous discount, which I couldn’t pass up. Have you heard any of the symphonies, ballets or concerti?
“Works of art create rules; rules do not create works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline Maestro267

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Re: Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932)
« Reply #51 on: June 17, 2020, 03:41:54 AM »
How much of the Carmen Suite is Shchedrin and how much of it is Bizet? I could've sworn I heard part of it was straight-up Bizet.

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932)
« Reply #52 on: June 17, 2020, 04:13:02 AM »
How much of the Carmen Suite is Shchedrin and how much of it is Bizet? I could've sworn I heard part of it was straight-up Bizet.

think of it as ARRANGED by Shchedrin.  The re-orchestrating changes the sound world of the piece completely.  I don't have a score to know if the music follows the same dramatic sequence as in the opera or whether Shchedrin has "re-purposed" any of it.  Also, I am not clear if there are are linking passages that are original Shchedrin - if so they are somewhat overshadowed by the familiar Bizet tunes.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932)
« Reply #53 on: June 17, 2020, 06:38:02 AM »
How much of the Carmen Suite is Shchedrin and how much of it is Bizet? I could've sworn I heard part of it was straight-up Bizet.
Think of it as ARRANGED by Shchedrin.  The re-orchestrating changes the sound world of the piece completely.  I don't have a score to know if the music follows the same dramatic sequence as in the opera or whether Shchedrin has "re-purposed" any of it.  Also, I am not clear if there are are linking passages that are original Shchedrin - if so they are somewhat overshadowed by the familiar Bizet tunes.

A very good question, which Roasted Swan answered astutely. Yes, the Carmen Suite is a re-orchestration of the Bizet work and it includes all of the bells and whistles in Shchedrin’s compositional toolbox at that time. I don’t think this work is fully representative of the composer, but does show how he can take a piece of music written by another composer, dig his nails into the musical fabric of the work and, ultimately, put his own individualistic stamp on the music. Think of Schoenberg’s orchestration of Brahms’ Piano Quartet No. 1. The more this work progresses, the more zany it gets as Schoenberg did exactly what Shchedrin did in that he went over-the-top with his orchestration and I must say, it worked rather well.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2020, 06:39:35 AM by Mirror Image »
“Works of art create rules; rules do not create works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline Maestro267

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Re: Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932)
« Reply #54 on: June 17, 2020, 11:39:56 AM »
So Shchedrin's most famous work is, by and large, not even his own original music? That's really unfortunate. I'll probably look at some of his original compositions in order to get a flavour for him, rather than dressing-up another composer's music.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932)
« Reply #55 on: June 17, 2020, 11:44:02 AM »
So Shchedrin's most famous work is, by and large, not even his own original music? That's really unfortunate. I'll probably look at some of his original compositions in order to get a flavour for him, rather than dressing-up another composer's music.

If you mean ‘famous’ in that it’s recorded the most, then, yes, it looks to be very possible BUT if you simply listened to the Carmen Suite and that’s it, you not only did yourself a disservice but the composer as well. Check out the Concertos for Orchestra Nos. 1-5.
“Works of art create rules; rules do not create works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932)
« Reply #56 on: June 17, 2020, 08:37:22 PM »
Speaking of the Carmen Suite:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/48LZAYRtsr8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/48LZAYRtsr8</a>
“Works of art create rules; rules do not create works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932)
« Reply #57 on: June 24, 2020, 10:33:51 AM »
I’ve been doing a somewhat mini-Shchedrin listening marathon and enjoying the experience immensely. I have decided for Cesar’s benefit to leave a little bit of feedback on his ballet The Humpbacked Horse besides just saying it was riveting (which, indeed, it was). :) One of the things that struck me in Act II was how there was definitely some Ravel Daphnis et Chloé influence in this particular act’s music. You can definitely hear it in the orchestration. I would say as a whole that The Humpbacked Horse is one of those fairy-tale ballets not too far removed from what Stravinsky was doing with say Le Baiser de la fée or Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet, which Daverz pointed out in the ‘Listening’ thread. But where it’s quite different is in the treatment of the rhythm, but also, of course, it’s harmonic content. Considering Shchedrin was quite a capable pianist himself, it’s no surprise that many of the twists found in this ballet are done so harmonically. Of course, this ballet is quite far removed from the more angsty excursions of his next full ballet Anna Karenina. I think this work overall would actually make a fine introduction to the composer. It’s accessible, easier on the ears but there are some nice twists here and there that lets you know that the composer is having a bit fun pulling some strings here and there with the music and where it takes the listener. So, in summary, you NEED this ballet in your collection, Cesar! Actually, anyone that’s a Russophile like I am, needs this ballet in their collection, IMHO.
“Works of art create rules; rules do not create works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline Symphonic Addict

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Re: Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932)
« Reply #58 on: June 24, 2020, 11:53:15 AM »
With such an enticing description, you won this time, John.  >:D

I'll be acquiring and listening to The Humpbacked Horse in due time.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932)
« Reply #59 on: June 24, 2020, 12:41:26 PM »
With such an enticing description, you won this time, John.  >:D

I'll be acquiring and listening to The Humpbacked Horse in due time.

Thankfully, no one wins in this but the music itself and as long as you’re listening, then this is all that matters at the end of the day. 8)
“Works of art create rules; rules do not create works of art.” - Claude Debussy