Music and Vision homepage


<<<  <<  -- 3 --  Howard Smith    FLAWLESSLY PERFORMED  --  >>  >>>


The relationship with Nazirova seems to have been one-sided, expressed largely through his letters to her. The correspondence began in April 1953 (the month after Stalin's death) and it soon tailed off. In 1954 Elmira received only five letters; in the following two years, only one each year. With the final letter (13 September 1956), Shostakovich told her of his second marriage to Margarita Kainova. Nina Vasilyevna Varzar, his wife while he wrote to Elmira, died in December 1954.

'Great composers have enshrined Clara Schumann, Meta Abegg, George Sand, Mathilde Wesendonck, Harriet Smithson, Kamilla Stosslova and others in their music,' wrote Huseinova. 'In the USSR such works were usually dedicated to Lenin, to the Party, possibly to friends or parents, but never to a woman who happened to have inspired them.'

The third movement marked Allegretto is a nocturne with two musical encryptions. Shostakovich's DSCH (D-natural, E-flat, C-natural and B-natural) 'signature', pervades the entire symphony from this point. Elmira's theme at concert pitch one fifth lower, has notes spelling out 'E A E D A' [listen -- track 3, 3:44-5:26]. (It combined letter names with solfeggio syllables, transforming 'Elmira' into EAEDA). The motif, heard twelve times on the horn, has a recondite tonality lending Elmira an air of mystery.

Shostakovich himself noted the similarity of the horn motif to its parallel at the opening of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, a work which he had been listening to around that time. Over the course of the Allegretto, the DSCH and Elmira motif 'signatures' alternate, gradually drawing closer, and both are flawlessly performed for this recording.

Continue >>

Copyright © 20 January 2008 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


 << Music & Vision home      Recent CD reviews       Georg von Bertouch >>

Download a free realplayer 

For help listening to the sound extracts here,
please refer to our questions & answers page.