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The Music Room => Composer Discussion => Topic started by: Kullervo on June 07, 2007, 09:56:53 AM

Title: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Kullervo on June 07, 2007, 09:56:53 AM
.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: sound67 on June 07, 2007, 09:59:32 AM
Anyone else feel the same way?

No.

Thomas
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on June 07, 2007, 10:01:08 AM
Thus far my only experience with Shostakovich has been through his string quartets, and I wasn't really impressed. Should I bother with his other music (symphonies, etc.), or should I just give up on him? If I should continue with him, what pieces should one start with?

Anyone else feel the same way?

Try a few symphonies. My current favorites are 7, 8, and 10.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Kullervo on June 07, 2007, 10:01:59 AM
No.

Thomas

I expected at least one of those.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Steve on June 07, 2007, 10:06:41 AM
Thus far my only experience with Shostakovich has been through his string quartets, and I wasn't really impressed. Should I bother with his other music (symphonies, etc.), or should I just give up on him? If I should continue with him, what pieces should one start with?

Anyone else feel the same way?

You're in the same boat that I was in only a couple of years ago. My first experiene with Shostakovich was also with his String Quartets (Emerson Set), and I wasn't immediately impressed. It wasn't until I was introduced to his Violin Conerti, that I was able to brack down that barrier. I woud also suggest listening to some of his symphonies (particularily the later ones).

Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Brewski on June 07, 2007, 10:07:47 AM
I would definitely give a couple of the symphonies a try, like maybe Nos. 5 or 10, and if those don't do it, then yes, perhaps set him aside and go on to someone else.  There is also the chance that the dissatisfaction might be with the recordings.  What versions of the quartets were you listening to?

--Bruce
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Bonehelm on June 07, 2007, 10:09:52 AM
Listen to his Waltz from Jazz Suite No.2.

I swear it will put you out from the Shosty black hole.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Steve on June 07, 2007, 10:10:24 AM
I would definitely give a couple of the symphonies a try, like maybe Nos. 5 or 10, and if those don't do it, then yes, perhaps set him aside and go on to someone else.  There is also the chance that the dissatisfaction might be with the recordings.  What versions of the quartets were you listening to?

--Bruce

That's a good point, a bad recording would sour the entire experiece. Although I dislike most of their other performances , The Emerson Quartet handles these pretty well. The Borodin is also an excellent set.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: mahlertitan on June 07, 2007, 10:20:28 AM
Shostakovitch was the last great symphonist, so you have to listen to at least the majority of his symphonies to pass a judgment on him.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: karlhenning on June 07, 2007, 10:26:28 AM
perhaps try one of his symphonies, boulez once stated that shostakovich's symphonies are like 2nd or 3rd pressings of mahler, and there is some truth to that imo

No, no, no.  The Boulez remark is just snide.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Kullervo on June 07, 2007, 10:26:47 AM
What versions of the quartets were you listening to?

Borodin, but I don't think that was it. I just always felt like his quartets lacked "depth" - like there was no mystery to them. Maybe I'm missing something.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Steve on June 07, 2007, 10:35:28 AM
Borodin, but I don't think that was it. I just always felt like his quartets lacked "depth" - like there was no mystery to them. Maybe I'm missing something.

That was the same problem that prevented me from appreciating these quartets. Even as a devoted Shostakovich listener, I am not overly of all of those quartets. It's the symphonies that you need to listen to quickly. Pick up a good complete set, by either Jansons/Barshai/Haitink.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Steve on June 07, 2007, 10:39:43 AM
yeah, a lot of his music has a stringy and lean quality to it that sort of puts me off as well, and i find his symphonic output uneven IMO... I do love some of his stuff though, like his Violin Concerto, thats a great work, perhaps give that a try as well....

Not to mention the Cello Concertos with Rostropovich.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: karlhenning on June 07, 2007, 10:40:45 AM
I do love some of his stuff though, like his Violin Concerto, thats a great work, perhaps give that a try as well....

Both his violin concerti are great works  8)
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Larry Rinkel on June 07, 2007, 10:41:29 AM
I expected at least one of those.

What, a Doubting Thomas?
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Steve on June 07, 2007, 10:42:56 AM
What, a Doubting Thomas?

Well done, Sir.  ;)
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Haffner on June 07, 2007, 10:44:29 AM
No, no, no.  The Boulez remark is just snide.




I wouldn't doubt that. I sometimes tend to take harsh judgements of other musicians by other musicians to be indicative of mental abberation. I think it's a rule of trade that one great musician respects another. Badmouthing paints the badmouther in the worse light.

I hear some Mahler in Shostakovich, I think that similarity is obvious. But I just as often don't hear it. In fact, I wonder more if Shostakovich had more than a passing familiarity with Arnold Schoenberg's String Quartets, etc.

But I'm all for cheering Shostakovich. I was introduced to the grotesque in music through him (this is from a person whom listens to death metal). Not just that, but he could write some more "accessible" music that was great, like his 5th Symphony.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: karlhenning on June 07, 2007, 10:51:58 AM
Shostakovich and death metal: two great tastes that go great together . . . .
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Mark on June 07, 2007, 10:55:23 AM
Shostakovich may speak to you more through his Second Piano Concerto (the central movement is among the most beautifully moving pieces of music ever written), and his tremendous Eleventh Symphony - make sure you get the LSO Live Rostropovich recording, and play it loud. It's an absolute belter! You might also like both of his Jazz Suites for something a bit lighter ... and hell, why not give his music for the film 'The Gadfly' a go? There's some terrific music to be heard there. :)
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Haffner on June 07, 2007, 11:02:40 AM
Shostakovich and death metal: two great tastes that go great together . . . .





ooooOOOOOYEAH
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Haffner on June 07, 2007, 11:09:18 AM
if you do try one symphony, also consider the 10th which is IMO another definite spike or high point in the cycle...i like the karajan recording on DG, but there are several fine versions available...





Great recording, James, that reccomendation is seconded.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Israfel the Black on June 07, 2007, 11:11:50 AM
Not to mention his wonderful Piano Concerto No. 1 - some truly consonant stuff there from the old angst driven composer.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: mahlertitan on June 07, 2007, 11:13:41 AM
for beginners, symphonies 1,4,5,7 are good starting points.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Steve on June 07, 2007, 11:42:58 AM
if you do try one symphony, also consider the 10th which is IMO another definite spike or high point in the cycle...i like the karajan recording on DG, but there are several fine versions available...

Karajan's 10th, is indeed a first-rate performance. I'm at our Univesrity Library listening to a fine LP of  Bernstein's recording of the 5th. Incredible!  :)
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Bonehelm on June 07, 2007, 02:16:29 PM
Shostakovich may speak to you more through his Second Piano Concerto (the central movement is among the most beautifully moving pieces of music ever written), and his tremendous Eleventh Symphony - make sure you get the LSO Live Rostropovich recording, and play it loud. It's an absolute belter! You might also like both of his Jazz Suites for something a bit lighter ... and hell, why not give his music for the film 'The Gadfly' a go? There's some terrific music to be heard there. :)

I concur.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: orbital on June 07, 2007, 02:24:45 PM
Thus far my only experience with Shostakovich has been through his string quartets, and I wasn't really impressed. Should I bother with his other music (symphonies, etc.), or should I just give up on him? If I should continue with him, what pieces should one start with?

Anyone else feel the same way?
No, I mean yes, but no.
I love the SQ's. Despite all the recommendations for his symphonies here, and the fact that he was a great symphonist, altough I like them, I could never love them [so far] like I do the SQ's. But which genre is a better representative of his musical language is hard to say. I can't, somehow, imagine someone not liking SQ's but loving his symphonies. Of course, there are probably a lot of people thinking the other way around.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Mark on June 07, 2007, 03:10:31 PM
FWIW, I have the SQs on Brilliant with the Rubio Quartet and I love the whole lot. :)
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: George on June 07, 2007, 03:24:37 PM
Thus far my only experience with Shostakovich has been through his string quartets, and I wasn't really impressed. Should I bother with his other music (symphonies, etc.), or should I just give up on him? If I should continue with him, what pieces should one start with?

Anyone else feel the same way?

Let's try this another way...can you name a bunch of composers that you are impressed with?
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Kullervo on June 07, 2007, 07:49:51 PM
What, a Doubting Thomas?

Haha!
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Kullervo on June 07, 2007, 07:57:35 PM
Let's try this another way...can you name a bunch of composers that you are impressed with?

Sibelius, Beethoven, Berg, Lutoslawski, Nørgård, Brahms... I could go on.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: vandermolen on June 08, 2007, 01:15:02 AM
if you do try one symphony, also consider the 10th which is IMO another definite spike or high point in the cycle...i like the karajan recording on DG, but there are several fine versions available...

Which Karajan performance do you prefer?  There are two on DGG.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Guido on June 08, 2007, 01:32:37 AM
The later one is the one that is usually recommended, but I love the agression of the first version - the second movement is positively elemental. I know the question wasn't directed at me... ;D
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: George on June 08, 2007, 02:01:59 AM
Sibelius, Beethoven, Berg, Lutoslawski, Nørgård, Brahms... I could go on.

OK.

I'd say put Shostakovich down for awhile and then revisit in a different genre using recommended performances.  :)
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Grazioso on June 08, 2007, 02:42:00 AM
An uneven composer who's not quite as "major" as some would have you believe (Boulez's comment has some truth), but definitely worth exploring further. Try the 5th or 10th symphonies, the concerti, and the 24 preludes and fugues.

Also, check out the interesting audio lectures/performances here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/discoveringmusic/audioarchive.shtml

And if you want something somewhat similar yet unique (and darker), try Pettersson.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: karlhenning on June 08, 2007, 03:15:59 AM
(Boulez's comment has some truth)

I'll say that such truth as is contained in Boulez's statement, simply refers to the fact that Mahler was one of the composers admired by Shostakovich.

Apart from that, it's just snide.  And possibly envious:  whatever his external circumstances, Shostakovich had an iron discipline which enabled him to do creative work constantly, and in disregard for the unpleasantness (to say the least) around him.

In comparison, compositionally, Boulez has trouble getting started.

And trouble knowing when to finish.

And in the interim, calling everything a work-in-progress.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: not edward on June 08, 2007, 03:31:41 AM
Sibelius, Beethoven, Berg, Lutoslawski, Nørgård, Brahms... I could go on.
If you like Berg and Lutoslawski, give the 14th symphony a try. It has something of the anguish of Wozzeck (a lifelong influence on Shostakovich) and the fluid floating-between-tonal-and-atonal string textures of Lutoslawski. I'm not really a big Shostakovich lover but the works of the last decade (plus the 4th symphony) will always have a high ranking on my shelves.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: karlhenning on June 08, 2007, 03:40:45 AM
Sibelius, Beethoven, Berg, Lutoslawski, Nørgård, Brahms... I could go on.

Apart from Edward's excellent suggestion, I'd say the Second Piano Trio, the Piano Quintet, the Blok Songs, the music for Kozintsev's  Hamlet.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Mark G. Simon on June 08, 2007, 04:19:58 AM
I'd say the Shostakovich string quartets take a few more listenings to get than the symphonies. They're a bit subtler, and maybe even deeper.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Mark on June 08, 2007, 04:26:19 AM
I connected with his SQs straightaway. They're like symphonies with fewer instruments. ;D
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Kullervo on June 08, 2007, 05:10:24 AM
If you like Berg and Lutoslawski, give the 14th symphony a try. It has something of the anguish of Wozzeck (a lifelong influence on Shostakovich) and the fluid floating-between-tonal-and-atonal string textures of Lutoslawski. I'm not really a big Shostakovich lover but the works of the last decade (plus the 4th symphony) will always have a high ranking on my shelves.

Nice recommendation, thanks.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Anne on June 08, 2007, 06:55:17 AM
IMO Shostakovich is the one composer where the listener must know at least something about Sh's background.

There is a documentary, "Shostakovch: the War Years" (if that's not exactly correct, maybe someone will correct the title?) that is excellent.  Then I would listen to Sym. 10 keeping in mind what you learned in the documentary.  Think in terms of Stalin and his victims when you listen.

Once you really understand what the music is saying, it is almost overwhelming!

Come back if you need more assistance.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: karlhenning on June 08, 2007, 10:17:52 AM
IMO Shostakovich is the one composer where the listener must know at least something about Sh's background.

There is a documentary, "Shostakovch: the War Years" (if that's not exactly correct, maybe someone will correct the title?) that is excellent.  Then I would listen to Sym. 10 keeping in mind what you learned in the documentary.  Think in terms of Stalin and his victims when you listen.

It is indeed an excellent DVD.  If it has a fault, it is that there are times when quotes from Testimony (which any impartial reader must own is a doubtful source) are voiced-over in a way which means for the audience “Shostakovich said this!” – only, maybe he did not.  (Some of those quotes, BTW, touch on the Tenth Symphony.)

I’ve very much enjoyed reading about Shostakovich’s life and career over the years, I’ve even enjoyed (in a way) observing the shifting ground.  The “Shostakovich Wars” have been unseemly, and actually wound up clouding the air, and really setting the composer’s cause back to some degree.  But good sense, and the truth as best we might be in a position to perceive it, will win through, I am sure.

I am very much of a different opinion, Anne, and my claim is that if one’s appreciation for the music depends on the frisson of knowing the composer’s astonishing biography, then to some degree one does not really like the music at all, but instead a kind of tabloid voyeurism.

I would never go so far as to suppose that the music needs to exist in a vaccuum hermetically sealed off from the circumstances of its composer’s life.  But one reaches a point soon of saying, if the music is really any good, of itself, then it will be great music just to listen to, without the crutch of having images of the composer’s biography directly in view.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Anne on June 08, 2007, 11:27:07 AM
You're right, Karl.  I did really appreciate that crutch in the very beginning.  After I had a toehold, didn't need it any more.  I would not want to denigrate him in any way.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 08, 2007, 11:42:22 AM
I am very much of a different opinion, Anne, and my claim is that if one’s appreciation for the music depends on the frisson of knowing the composer’s astonishing biography, then to some degree one does not really like the music at all, but instead a kind of tabloid voyeurism.

I don't disagree at all, Karl, but I do understand Anne's point: in fact, seeing a documentary about the Eroica was my breakthrough into the work after years of fruitless listening. Of course today I don't believe half what they claimed; I see the symphony as the culmination and pinnacle of the Classical Symphony rather than the model for the new Romantic era. But at that time I saw the program, discovering the circumstances of Beethoven's life and his drive to create this heroic work really helped me come to grips with the symphony.

Sarge
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: S709 on June 08, 2007, 01:19:14 PM
I would guess the way to go is to try the most "abstract" works of Dmitri. So I would strongly agree with the mention of Symphony No. 14, but would add the following:

The Sonata for Viola and Piano. A subtle, lyrical, haunting piece, which some say is quite 'full of despair' but I haven't been able to experience it like that really. A must-hear in order to add to an overall view of the composer!

I'd also second the recommendations of the Preludes & Fugues Op. 87, which are a unique part of the 20th century piano repertoire and quite beautiful.


Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Anne on June 08, 2007, 05:46:45 PM
Thanks, Sarge
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: karlhenning on June 08, 2007, 06:28:34 PM
(Anne &) Sarge: Understood . . . it isn't as though we could surgically separate (nor neatly define) these planes of experiencing the artwork.  Insofar as Anne's remark might be 'overweighted,' I felt a counterbalance was in order.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Steve on June 08, 2007, 06:34:51 PM

I am very much of a different opinion, Anne, and my claim is that if one’s appreciation for the music depends on the frisson of knowing the composer’s astonishing biography, then to some degree one does not really like the music at all, but instead a kind of tabloid voyeurism.

I'd agree with this position, Karl.. Too often, we see that problem with literary criticism. A student is having difficulty connecting with a work of the past, and then after reading a few biogarphies on the author, returns to the work able to access it. This doesn't need to be problematic in theory, but sometimes, it provides the student with a limiting lens with which to view the text. That lens becomes a 'crutch' and the student is prevented from seeing the work from other perspectives. Even if it does bring a sense of meaning to a piece of literature/music, secondary information about the author should not inform one's preference. If that is the case, then it is not an expression of interest in a work, but merely an expression of one's interest in the author. In fact, this is the biggest problem with interpretation. We learn that an author had a troubled childhood, and we use that experience to approach the work. We should always strive to approach art/music raw and unhindered, so that our opinions are indeed our own. If you don't like Shostakovich's 10 after repeated listening, then you don't like the piece. The only thing that should change you mind, is more expousre to the piece, and not background information.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: karlhenning on June 08, 2007, 06:37:46 PM
. . . If you don't like Shostakovich's 10 after repeated listening, then you don't like the piece. The only thing that should change you mind, is more expousre to the piece, and not background information.

Well, and especially when the source of some of the background is in reasonable question.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Steve on June 08, 2007, 06:42:30 PM
Well, and especially when the source of some of the background is in reasonable question.

Regardless, I really can't see how background information should influence preference.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 09, 2007, 05:48:53 AM

If you don't like Shostakovich's 10 after repeated listening, then you don't like the piece. The only thing that should change you mind, is more expousre to the piece, and not background information.

That's not necessarily true. That certainly wasn't the case with my Eroica experience and today I love the symphony for itself, not for its historical context and importance. I just don't believe knowing the circumstances of creation and the biography of the artist ever hurt or hampered anyone's appreciation of a work of art. If it did, we would have banished critical biographies long ago. Art doesn't exist in a vacuum.

Sarge
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: greg on June 10, 2007, 08:18:05 AM
Shostakovich and death metal: two great tastes that go great together . . . .
I used to play the opening bars of the 2nd movement of the 10th symphony on my guitar when playing in my friends house, which was a couple months ago. He asked, "What's that?" Probably he thought it was from any old metal song. But I just told him it was from a symphony.  ;D
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: mahlertitan on June 10, 2007, 04:58:27 PM
I used to play the opening bars of the 2nd movement of the 10th symphony on my guitar when playing in my friends house, which was a couple months ago. He asked, "What's that?" Probably he thought it was from any old metal song. But I just told him it was from a symphony.  ;D

what was his response?
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: vandermolen on June 10, 2007, 11:03:50 PM
the 1982 one, its far from perfect and ive been told its got a few mistakes on there....but despite its technical flaws its a pretty passionate and intense performance, there are probably better performances available though..

I love both DGG performances but prefer (marginally) the earlier recording for the intensity of the performance.

I just bought Mravinsky's 1938 recording of No 5 which is by far the greatest recorded performance I have heard, linking it more closely to the sound world of No 4.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on June 11, 2007, 02:49:29 AM
the 1982 one, its far from perfect and ive been told its got a few mistakes on there....but despite its technical flaws its a pretty passionate and intense performance, there are probably better performances available though..

Guess what? There aren't.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: karlhenning on June 11, 2007, 03:21:02 AM
Oh, I think there are.  YMMV, of course.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: greg on June 12, 2007, 02:11:31 PM
what was his response?
not much, he just said, "oh".
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Kullervo on June 12, 2007, 02:19:27 PM
Well, today I picked up Keith Jarrett's recording of the 24 Preludes and Fugues. Perhaps I will be able to set aside my prejudices and enjoy this.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: oyasumi on June 13, 2007, 08:50:20 AM
The Preludes and Fugues are like a microcosm of Shostakovich's work. Every bit of his depth, wit, and personality is contained to the keyboard, representing what you would otherwise have to listen to hours of symphonies or quartets to get.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Drasko on June 13, 2007, 09:00:47 AM
I just bought Mravinsky's 1938 recording of No 5

I'd love to hear that, where did you find it? What label?
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: George on June 13, 2007, 09:13:08 AM
I'd love to hear that, where did you find it? What label?

Well, there's this one from 1954 for $1.38.

http://www.classicalmusicmobile.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=111&products_id=477 (http://www.classicalmusicmobile.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=111&products_id=477)
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Drasko on June 13, 2007, 11:55:42 AM
Well, there's this one from 1954 for $1.38.

http://www.classicalmusicmobile.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=111&products_id=477 (http://www.classicalmusicmobile.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=111&products_id=477)

Thanks George, but I'm after '38 this time.


vandermolen (that is you?) did you get Doremi or Membran, or perhaps some exotic japanese release? How is the transfer quality?
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: zamyrabyrd on July 07, 2007, 08:57:12 PM
Is this the only thread on Shostakovitch? "Doubting"? Oh well.
Last week musicians from Austria played his second piano trio from 1944.
A friend of mine said "it keeps you on the edge of your seat".
Any other admirers of this work?

ZB
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: quintett op.57 on July 07, 2007, 10:02:33 PM
Is this the only thread on Shostakovitch? "Doubting"? Oh well.
Last week musicians from Austria played his second piano trio from 1944.
A friend of mine said "it keeps you on the edge of your seat".
Any other admirers of this work?

ZB
I heard it in concert (Wanderer trio) last year ago and I'm not going to forget it.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: The new erato on July 07, 2007, 11:24:36 PM
Is this the only thread on Shostakovitch? "Doubting"? Oh well.
Last week musicians from Austria played his second piano trio from 1944.
A friend of mine said "it keeps you on the edge of your seat".
Any other admirers of this work?

ZB
Here's one. But re edge-of-seat: Last week I heard the violin sonata with Andsnes/Rachlin in a concert at the Risør Chamber Festival (in a concert where Christian Poltera/Poltna Lescheko played the Rachmaninov cello sonata). Now THIS is edge-of-seat stuff!
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Boris_G on July 08, 2007, 12:39:16 AM
I'd agree with this position, Karl.. Too often, we see that problem with literary criticism. A student is having difficulty connecting with a work of the past, and then after reading a few biogarphies on the author, returns to the work able to access it. This doesn't need to be problematic in theory, but sometimes, it provides the student with a limiting lens with which to view the text. That lens becomes a 'crutch' and the student is prevented from seeing the work from other perspectives. Even if it does bring a sense of meaning to a piece of literature/music, secondary information about the author should not inform one's preference. If that is the case, then it is not an expression of interest in a work, but merely an expression of one's interest in the author. In fact, this is the biggest problem with interpretation. We learn that an author had a troubled childhood, and we use that experience to approach the work. We should always strive to approach art/music raw and unhindered, so that our opinions are indeed our own. If you don't like Shostakovich's 10 after repeated listening, then you don't like the piece. The only thing that should change you mind, is more expousre to the piece, and not background information.

That's not necessarily true. That certainly wasn't the case with my Eroica experience and today I love the symphony for itself, not for its historical context and importance. I just don't believe knowing the circumstances of creation and the biography of the artist ever hurt or hampered anyone's appreciation of a work of art. If it did, we would have banished critical biographies long ago. Art doesn't exist in a vacuum.

Sarge

I would add that to gain an insight into a work through a composer's biography, or perhaps recognising and understanding musical references he's made (particularly relevant to such composers as Shostakovich and Prokofiev), can be an excellent way of getting to the heart of a piece of music. That is not to say the heart should be the be all and end all of hearing the music, but it can help cut through surface irrelevances which may be putting a listener off (eg the sound Shostakovich's lean textures, or of Beethoven's orchestration).

To give another example, it would be a shame if listeners were tempted to dismiss Schnabel's Beethoven on the basis that his technique wasn't the cleanest imaginable. In other words, I think it's useful if people get to the matter of what a musician or a composer is trying to express, rather than getting hung-up on its manner (though of course the manner of the music has some importance).
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Kullervo on July 08, 2007, 04:59:22 AM
Is this the only thread on Shostakovitch? "Doubting"? Oh well.
Last week musicians from Austria played his second piano trio from 1944.
A friend of mine said "it keeps you on the edge of your seat".
Any other admirers of this work?

ZB

Well, now that I've heard DSCH and very much enjoyed what I've heard, there's no reason for this thread to exist.
There is, however, Dmitri's Dacha.

:)
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: karlhenning on July 08, 2007, 09:28:05 AM
Is this the only thread on Shostakovitch? "Doubting"?

No, there's The Dacha (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,164.0.html)
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: karlhenning on July 08, 2007, 09:29:06 AM
Last week musicians from Austria played his second piano trio from 1944.
A friend of mine said "it keeps you on the edge of your seat".
Any other admirers of this work?

Indeed!  I like the first as well, a young work, perhaps, but a very musical young work of unalloyed assurance.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: greg on July 08, 2007, 02:11:01 PM
i doubt Shostakovich all the time.......

it's not like he's going to come back to life......
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Boris_G on July 09, 2007, 01:35:09 PM
i doubt Shostakovich all the time.......

it's not like he's going to come back to life......

Oh, but he's very alive: certainly more demonstrably so than a certain... well that's probably a thread for the Diner. Can I be bothered?  :-\
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: abidoful on August 05, 2010, 05:48:10 AM
Indeed!  I like the first as well, a young work, perhaps, but a very musical young work of unalloyed assurance.
I love the first Trio; economic and/but effective :)
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: False_Dmitry on August 05, 2010, 11:41:29 AM
That was the same problem that prevented me from appreciating these quartets. Even as a devoted Shostakovich listener, I am not overly of all of those quartets. It's the symphonies that you need to listen to quickly. Pick up a good complete set, by either Jansons/Barshai/Haitink.

I'm really astounded you could reach such a conclusion.  For me they represent some of the finest 4tet writing of the C20th.  The 8th, 9th, 11th and 15th quartets in particular are the apogee of his writing.  These are works which I would never wish to be without.  Although I'm always freshening the content on my mp3-player, at least 2-3 of the quartets are always on there to revisit and explore.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: Franco on August 05, 2010, 12:35:59 PM
Oh I vastly prefer the quartets (his chamber music in general) to the symphonies - they represent for me his true musical legacy.
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: The new erato on August 05, 2010, 09:53:02 PM
I'm really astounded you could reach such a conclusion.  For me they represent some of the finest 4tet writing of the C20th.  The 8th, 9th, 11th and 15th quartets in particular are the apogee of his writing.  These are works which I would never wish to be without.  Although I'm always freshening the content on my mp3-player, at least 2-3 of the quartets are always on there to revisit and explore.
No 13 has long been my favorite; plain shit-scary stiff!
Title: Re: Doubting Shostakovich
Post by: False_Dmitry on August 05, 2010, 10:15:42 PM
No 13 has long been my favorite; plain shit-scary stiff!

 ;D   Choosing between DSCH's 4tets is like choosing from the menu in your favourite restaurant - your favourites are always available, but everything else is just as good if you're in the mood :)

I always feel that #15 inhabits a different world to the others, though? (and its scale and scope is greatly enlarged).  My abiding affection for that extraordinary piece arose out of seeing it used in a stage production - a kind of "Shostakovich biog-show" jointly evolved by Simon & Gerard McBurney - called "The Sound Of Noise", and performed by Complicité with the Emersons.  The culimation of the show was a complete performance (fragments of it are also introduced earlier) of the Fifteenth.  I saw the show in a provincial town, where it played in front of a very general audience who weren't especially interested in classical music...  but the advocacy for Shostakovich's music within the show resulted in a rapt, fascinated performance of the quartet, and tumultuous applause when it ended.  It's an experience of a live performance that's remained in my mind ever since.