Yuri Temirkanov - St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra
What do you do with Shostakovich's Ninth Symphony? It's clearly a goofy, high-spirited symphony: the sly and silly second theme of the opening Allegro, the chuckling clarinet-and-woodwind beginning of the central Presto, and the snickering-bassoon-and-giggling flute theme and the final silly march of the closing Allegretto are obviously cheerful music, aren't they? But it's just as clearly a pensive and brooding symphony: the sour and dour Moderato and the ominous and gloomy Largo are just as obviously dark and bleak music, aren't they? Then as now, the problem is how to integrate both elements of the score.
You could do worse than to do what Yuri Temirkanov and the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra do - they play the Ninth as an ironic tragedy. That way, when the brasses play the silly second theme of the Allegro, they sound more sardonic then silly. That way, when the trombones declaim the dark utterances of the Largo, they don't sound like the voice of doom, but like the voice of the doomed who still refuse to die without a certain degree of ironic detachment keeping them from going insane. That way, when the whole orchestra rips into the moronic final peroration of the finale, they don't sound like the triumph of the stupid and the evil but like the bright and the good smiling ironically at the stupid and the evil. The St. Petersburg Symphony play as well, and maybe just a little bit better, than the orchestra they used to be: the Leningrad Philharmonic.
Yuri Temirkanov and the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra here uphold the highest standards of their predecessors, Evgeny Mravinsky and the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra, with a performance of blinding intensity and searing concentration. Their opening Moderato builds to a march climax of unrelenting brutal power. Their Allegretto is right on the knife edge between irony and tragedy. Their Largo is one of the bleakest and most hopeless ever recorded, as bleak and hopeless, even, as Mravinsky's own. And the finale is as big and strong and stupid as ever - which, of course, makes it absolutely ideal. Without compromising the technical precision of the orchestra that Mravinsky built, Temirkanov has shaped it into a rounder and more supple instrument. And without compromising the heritage of Mravinsky's Shostakovich Fifth, Temirkanov has found a way to make it his own by making it seem more personal, more human, and less colossal and fearsome. And since Mravinsky and the Leningrad gave the Fifth its world premiere, Temirkanov's achievement is all the more remarkable.
Симфония № 5
Symphony 5 др. исполнение
Симфония № 5 d-moll, op.47 (1937). Премьера - 21 ноября 1937, Ленинград, Большой зал филармонии. Оркестр Ленинградской филармонии, дирижёр Е. Мравинский
Симфония № 5 ре минор, соч. 47, - симфония Дмитрия Шостаковича, созданная в период между апрелем и июлем 1937 года. Впервые исполнена 21 ноября 1937 года в Ленинграде, Ленинградским филармоническим оркестром под управлением Евгения Мравинского. Работа имела огромный успех, и, по словам Мстислава Ростроповича, получила овации со слезами на глазах, длившиеся по крайней мере 40 минут. Симфония является одним из наиболее популярных произведений Шостаковича.
После гонений 1936 года за оперу "Леди Макбет Мценского уезда" и балет "Светлый ручей" Шостакович находился под давлением. От него требовали упростить свою музыку и адаптировать её к модели социалистического реализма. Адекватный образ социалистического реализма в музыке означает монументальный подход и возвышенная оптимистическая риторика. Музыка Шостаковича была сочтена слишком сложной технически, оперу "Леди Макбет Мценского уезда" поносили в "Правде". На заседании Союза композиторов через неделю после этой статьи Лев Книппер, Борис Асафьев и Иван Дзержинский предложили помочь композитору встать на правильный путь. В такой обстановке у Шостаковича, как представляется, нет другого выбора, кроме как подчиниться.
Шостакович обратился к помощи маршала Михаила Тухачевского. Один из высших офицеров в Красной армии с 1925 года был покровителем композитора. Тем не менее, сам маршал стал жертвой, осужден по обвинению в измене и расстрелян. Многие из друзей и родственников Шостаковича были арестованы и исчезли, а на протяжении года композитор опасался, что то же случится и с ним.
Такова была ситуация, с которой Шостакович столкнулся в апреле 1937 года. Если он хочет что-либо сделать, но не поддаваться давлению партии, он должен действовать тонко, так как все взоры будут на нём и его сочинениях. Его форма музыкальной сатиры была осуждена и с ней не будут мириться впредь. Он должен был превратить простоту, которую требовали от него власти, в силу.
Одна работа, написанная ранее, смогла добиться этого - Четвёртая симфония Малера. Малер начал свою Четвертую симфонию в режиме детской простоты, однако в дальнейшем стало очевидным, что первое впечатление было обманчивым. Шостакович использовал отрывок из Малера в своей симфонии.
Через четыре месяца после Четвёртой симфонии, Шостакович начал писать Пятую симфонию. Эта работа, как он надеялся, будет означать его политическую реабилитацию. Композитор даже дал симфонии подзаголовок "Ответ советского художника на справедливую критику". Этот "ответ" мог бы сойти за пример героического классицизма, который от него требовали. Шостакович сократил свой музыкальный стиль при этом усилив содержательность и углубив двусмысленность. Шостакович нашел язык, с помощью которого он мог говорить с властью все последующие годы.
The Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47, by Dmitri Shostakovich is a work for orchestra composed between April and July 1937. Its first performance was on November 21, 1937, in Leningrad by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra under Yevgeny Mravinsky. The premiere was a huge success, and received an ovation that lasted well over half an hour.
After his fall from favour in 1936 over the opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District and the ballet The Limpid Stream, Shostakovich was under pressure to simplify his music and adapt it to classical models, heroic classicism being a prime characteristic of socialist realism. An adequate portrayal of socialist realism in music meant a monumental approach and an exalted rhetoric based on optimism. Shostakovich's music was considered too complex, technically, to fall under the strictures of socialist realism. Lady Macbeth had been derided in Pravda as "a farrago of chaotic, nonsensical sounds." At the meeting of the Composers' Union weeks after the Pravda article, Lev Knipper, Boris Asafiev and Ivan Dzerzhinsky suggested that the composer should be helped to "straighten himself out." Essentially a non-person in an era of unprecedented state terrorism, Shostakovich appeared to have no choice but to comply.
Shostakovich sought the aid of Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky, one of the highest-ranking officers in the Red Army and since 1925 a patron of the composer. However, the marshal himself became a victim, convicted on a trumped-up charge of treason and shot. Many of Shostakovich's friends and relatives were arrested and disappeared, and for a year the composer feared the same would happen to him. He completed his Fourth Symphony in April but withdrew the work the following year while it was in rehearsal.
This was the situation Shostakovich faced in April 1937. If he were to do anything but yield to Party pressure, it would have to be subtle, as all eyes would be on him and whatever composition he wrote. His form of musical satire had been denounced and would not be tolerated so blatantly again. Falling back on venting his tragic side cautiously whilst otherwise toeing the line of socialist realism would amount to self-betrayal. He had to somehow turn the simplicity demanded by the authorities into a virtue, mocking it whilst in the process of turning it into great art.
One work, written 37 years earlier, had achieved this basic paradox-Mahler's Fourth Symphony. Mahler began his Fourth in a mode of apparently childish simplicity, at which initial audiences scoffed. However, Mahler's development subsequently indicated to listeners that the first impression was deceptive. Shostakovich referred to this opening passage from Mahler in his own symphony. Mahler's Fourth starts with 24 F-sharps tapped in consort with sleighbells; the vaulting canon theme which comprises the first four bars of Shostakovich's Fifth descends to a motto rhythm of three repeated As on the violins. These As would become much more important later in the symphony.
Four months after he withdrew his Fourth Symphony, he began writing his Fifth. This work, he hoped, would mark his political rehabilitation, at least outwardly coming up to party expectations. It could pass for an example of the heroic classicism demanded by official policy. He showed the first movement to Tikhon Khrennikov, Aram Khachaturian, and Vissarian Shebalin in May, and the first two movements were performed in June for Nikolai Zhilyaev and Grigoriy Frid. In October, he and Nikita Bogoslovsky performed a four-handed piano arrangement, after which Yevgeniy Mravinsky and Shostakovich began preparing for the orchestral premiere. Shostakovich slimmed down his musical style considerably from the superabundance of the Fourth, with less orchestral color and a smaller breadth of scope. With this scaling down also came a refinement of his pithiness and a deepening of ambiguity. More importantly, Shostakovich found a language through which he could speak with power and eloquence over the following three decades. Paul Bekker, in describing Mahler's works, called this power gesellschaftbildende Kraft, literally "community-moulding power." It is the power to weld an audience together, uplifting and moving them in a single emotion-controlled wave, sweeping aside all intellectual reservations.
The Symphony quotes Shostakovich's song Vozrozhdenije (Op. 46 No. 1, composed in 1936-37), most notably in the last movement, which uses a poem by Alexander Pushkin (find text and a translation here) that deals with the matter of rebirth. This song is by some considered to be a vital clue to the interpretation and understanding of the whole symphony. In addition, commentators have noted that Shostakovich incorporated a motif from the "Habanera" from Bizet's Carmen into the first movement, a reference to Shostakovich's earlier infatuation with a woman who refused his offer of marriage, and subsequently moved to Spain and married a man named Roman Carmen.
Симфония № 9
Симфония № 9 Es-dur, ор. 70 (1945) в пяти частях. Премьера - 3 ноября 1945, Ленинград, Большой зал филармонии. Оркестр Ленинградской филармонии, дирижёр Е. Мравинский
Симфония № 9 ми-бемоль мажор, соч. 70 - симфония Дмитрия Шостаковича, написанная в 1945 году. Впервые исполнена в Ленинграде 3 ноября 1945 года Ленинградским филармоническим оркестром под управлением Евгения Мравинского.
Девятая симфония первоначально задумывалась как гимн победе над нацистской Германией в Великой Отечественной Войне. Композитор объявил в октябре 1943 года, что симфония будет большой композицией для оркестра, солистов и хора, своеобразным аналогом последней симфонии Бетховена, также носившей девятый номер.
В ходе встречи со студентами 16 января 1945 года, Шостакович сообщил им, что днем ранее он начал работу над новой симфонией. Через неделю он сказал им, что дошел до середины разработки раздела, и работа будет начинаться с большого tutti. Но затем Шостакович прервал работу на три месяца и возобновил ее лишь 26 июля 1945 года. Симфония была окончена 30 августа 1945 года и оказалась совершенно иной, нежели та, что задумывалась первоначально. Настроение симфонии было не пафосным и величественным, а преимущественно приподнято-беззаботным (вносила контраст лишь медленная четвертая часть, насыщенная трагическими образами). Сам композитор назвал свое новое произведение "вздохом облегчения после мрачного лихолетья с надеждой на будущее".
Девятая симфония выдвигалась на Сталинскую премию в 1946 году, но не смогла одержать победу. 14 февраля 1948 года вместе с некоторыми другими произведениями композитора симфония была запрещена и не исполнялась до 1955 года.
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 9
Unlike his compatriots Prokofiev and Stravinsky, both educated in Tsarist Russia, Dmitry Shostakovich worked entirely under the influence of the communist government, and he struggled all his career with the state's inability to accept art it did not understand. His early satiric operas, The Nose (1930) and Lady Macbeth of the Mtensk District (1934) were successful at their debuts but not popular with Stalin himself, and in 1936 Shostakovich was attacked for the "petty bourgeois sensationalism" of Lady Macbeth. His Symphony No. 5 (1937), subtitled "A Soviet Artist's Reply to Just Criticism," is seen by many as a subtle satire of the politburo in the work's grandiose manner and forced rejoicing.
Then the war came, and the government became too busy to worry about the finer points of music criticism. Experiencing the deprivations of war in Leningrad, Shostakovich wrote three symphonies inspired by the conflict. He gained international celebrity for his seventh symphony (1941), subtitled "Leningrad" and written while the city was under siege by the Germans. Toscanini, Koussevitsky, and Stokowski all wanted to conduct its premiere in the west; the score had to be smuggled out of the country on microfilm. However, his Symphony No. 8, "Stalingrad" (1943), was seen in the Soviet Union as inappropriately pessimistic. The war was beginning to turn in the Allies' favor, so why was this music tragic? It's likely that Shostakovich understood a victory would cement Stalin's power, leading to more repression.
Early in 1945, word spread-some of it apparently from the composer himself-that Shostakovich was working on a grand symphony modeled on Beethoven's ninth, with chorus and soloists. But although Shostakovich did begin such a work, he put it aside and in July 1945 began writing a very different sort of symphony, completing it in August. The Leningrad Philharmonic premiered it on November 3, 1945. Conductor Yevgeny Mravinsky called the new symphony "a joyous sigh of relief … a work directed against philistinism, which ridicules complacency and bombast, the desire to rest on one's laurels." This statement was probably an attempt to shield the composer from the critics, who were still waiting for their big ninth. In Testimony, Solomon Volkov's biography of the composer, the author quotes Shostakovich: "They wanted a majestic Ninth … But when the war against Hitler was won, [Stalin] went off the deep end, like a frog puffing himself up to the size of an ox, and now I was supposed to write an apotheosis of Stalin. I simply could not … My stubbornness cost me dearly." (One should note that Volkov was later accused of making up most of the quotes by the composer.)
Whatever his motivations, by 1948 Shostakovich was condemned by the government again, along with Prokofiev and other prominent musicians, for "formalist perversions." He wrote works glorifying Russia's history until Stalin's death in 1953, when the artistic freeze began to thaw.
So what was so unnerving about this symphony, besides the fact that it was not 'grand?' To begin with, it is compact. The entire work is shorter than some of the movements in the two symphonies that precede it. Rather than conjuring Beethoven, its humor and lightness are a tribute to Haydn, whose symphonies Shostakovich and fellow composer Dmitri Kabalevsky had played on the piano each evening during the six weeks in which Shostakovich composed the work. But perhaps all one has to do is to listen to the first movement, Allegro, to understand why listeners waiting for heroism were disappointed. The light string arpeggios, the jaunty woodwind solos that dance through the first section of this movement are breezy, not brawny. Even the two-note brass blast that continually interrupts this section is played for laughs. Some critics have named this the "Stalin motif," a way for Shostakovich to secretly ridicule his leader's puffed-up self-importance. Indeed, in the development section the motif changes into something threatening, perhaps showing the dangerous side of the Soviet despot. And in the recapitulation, when the second theme would ordinarily be stated in the movement's tonic key of E-flat, the trombone petulantly insists instead on A-flat, over and over, until the orchestra finally gives in, with the satirical piccolo tune played this time on a solo violin.
The second movement, Moderato, opens with a soulful clarinet solo in B minor, the clarinet soon joined in its melancholy meandering by additional woodwinds. The movement's second subject is a gently rocking melody for strings. The slow, dance-like rhythms of the movement are marked by sudden stops and starts, giving it a feeling of hesitation and doubt.
The final three movements are played without break, but their themes are definitely distinct. The Presto features rapidly moving patterns for the entire ensemble. A brilliant trumpet solo briefly cuts through the agitated textures. Piccolo and tambourine accent the rapid-fire motion. Then suddenly the movement slows, as if the players were simply exhausted, and a loud brass chord begins the fourth movement, Largo. A huge fanfare by trombones and tuba seems to announce some important arrival-but what we get instead is an introspective bassoon solo. (Could this be the politburo making its public pronouncements, with the artist mournfully muttering from the sidelines?) Brass and bassoon counter each other, then the bassoon launches into a humorous passage to start the Allegretto. The lightness of the first movement returns, yet a series of woodwind duets have a touch of the ominous about them with their sometimes surprising harmonies. The tension builds as strings play rising and falling arpeggios against crescendoing pulses from brass and woodwinds. But instead of a sweeping emotional climax, the music segues into a brilliant, dancing celebration, complete with booming bass drum and the rat-tat-tat of the snare. Its last chance at the heroic foiled, this symphony dances off in ever-faster pirouettes, ending with a final slap of the tambourine.
February 4, 2007