OF A TROUBLED WORLD
BILL NEWMAN discusses the Emersons' new recording
of the complete Shostakovich works for string quartet
Quite by accident, I tuned into BBC TV's Newsnight here in the
UK when Jeremy Paxman chaired a short discussion on why the music of Dmitri
Shostakovich is currently 'in the news'. It turned into a minor battle royal,
Paxman for once taking a back seat. He sided with the charming young Russian
lady on behalf of her people suggesting extra emotive meanings behind the
printed scores, while a voluble Norman Lebrecht constantly stressed the
importance of reading up all the literature on the subject for a correct
assessment. Both views are relevant, 'Testament - The Memoirs of Shostakovich'
together with Elizabeth Wilson's 'Shostakovich - A Life Remembered', adding
considerably to our knowledge yet inevitably, as with any great composer,
inner visions are revealed to the astute listener only in the course of
hearing different interpretations.
The 15 Symphonies, some with defined programmes, are far easier to grasp
than the 15 Quartets where personal associations, an eternal love for the
works of writer-poet Gogol, friendship with composers and performers, and
an incorporation of ideas inspired by verse settings - Akhmatova, Mayakovsky,
Tsvetayeva, Pasternak, Yevtushenko, Dostoyevsky, Apollinaire, Lorca, Blok,
Beckett, Valéry - provide the catylist of his composing achievement
spanning the years 1938-1974.
Copyright © 27 May 2000 Bill Newman,
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BILL NEWMAN IN CONVERSATION WITH THE EMERSON
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