Shostakovich: The Man and His Music by Christopher Norris

By Christopher Norris

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Sample text

1 4, to show the composer at last reconciled to the spectre of death. Our chronologically innocent listener, then, would have placed the symphonies in the following order: g, 6, 2, 3, 1 3, 4, 1 2 , 7 , 8, 5 , 1 1 , 1 5, 1 , IO , 1 4. With such a vast divergency from reality possible in our coajecture, how can Shostakovich be fitted against the panorama of the twentieth century symphony with any logical conception of development or lines of influence? What, in short, moulded Shostakovich's symphonic nature?

The original sound for the C major made an equally effective contrast, so this was retained. All these considerations apart, this section has continued to present problems : because of the key and the exposed nature of the part-writing near the beginning it is almost impossible for even the slightest technical blemish to pass undetected . These first few pages of the score demand absolutely accurate intonation with disciplined vibrato, flawless bow-strokes and finely controlled string crossings, a firm rhythmic pulse, and INTERPRETING THE STRING QUARTETS 40 CHRISTOPHER ROWLAND AND ALAN GEORGE perfect internal balance - a not unreasonable approach to any piece of music, in fact!

6 coming next. Two flag-waving patriotic pieces, Nos . 2 and 3, follow, to be balanced by the less than patriotic No. 1 3 during a period of experimentation that included the use of voices in a symphonic context. The highly coloured orchestral palette exposed in No. 3 may have been extended in the voiceless No. 4; and could the technical gains thus made be used to true symphonic advantage in a series of patriotic but more maturely traditional works, Nos . 1 2 , 7 and 8? Nos . 5 and 1 1 might then stand on their shoulders at the pea:k of that particular line.

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