On Friday the 17th November, Mr Tuba and I went off to see the Sydney Symphony perform a program of Shostakovich. I was a little be worried about the Russianess of the program. The pieces were Dmitri Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No.1 in E flat major, Op.107 and Symphony No.8 in C minor, Op.65. Dmitri Shostakovich lived through a very interesting time in Russian falling in and out of favour with Communist government. The pre concert talk by Zoltán Szabó was very informative and enjoyable. Really placing the music in time and history.
Cello Concerto No.1
The soloist for the Cello Concerto was Daniel Müller-Schott. He has amazing hair which along with his enjoyable tone so was fun to watch. As suspected it was quite Russian so it did have some dark intense moments. The horn has a beautiful solo parts in the first, second and fourth movements. The timpani part in the fourth movement was quite exciting. It is scored for strings, woodwinds, a horn, celesta and timpani. There was probably a little too much piccolo for my liking.
I probably enjoyed this more than the cello concerto. The power of the lower brass and low strings balanced it all a bit more. I love the lower sounds. The bassoons and bass clarinet also get to shine. I found that overall I got caught up in the journey and story a lot more. At the end of the first movement there was beautifully haunting Cor Anglais solo, played by everyone’s favourite player Alexandre Oguey (who by the way is not only an amazing Cor Anglais player but a very funny guy). The whole symphony feels like 1943. The despair is there.
The conductor was Vladimir Ashkenazy, amazingly while he was the principle conductor for the Sydney Symphony I never saw him conduct. I think I have seen him conduct every season since he has left. He is very entertaining, dancing all over the place with the best arm movements ever. Here is a video of him in action with the Sydney Symphony in 2011 conducting Mahler’s 6th Symphony.
It was a great night out and some very enjoyable bits. I would like to create a highlights of Shostakovich so I would get to listen to the bits I enjoyed. I know that is probably not the cool thing to do and I should just lump it and listen to it just for the challenge but I have enough challenges in my life that sometimes listening to music shouldn’t be added to the list.