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Boosey & Hawkes / Sikorski

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes / Sikorski for the UK, British Commonwealth (excluding Canada), Republic of Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Israel.


World Premiere
Glinka Concert Hall, Leningrad
Fydor Druzhinin, vla / Mikhail Muntyan, pft
Repertoire Note

Shostakovich’s final work, written when the composer was in the grip of mortal illness, is one of the darkest works in his whole output and a classic of late 20th century chamber music. It is also one of the very few major compositions for viola and piano and therefore a major part of the violist’s repertoire.

The first movement – Aria – is a piece on an almost symphonic scale, a thrilling study in Shostakovich’s most searching idiom, in which harmony and melody are drawn out to spine-chilling lengths. By contrast, the central movement is a transcription of a scene from the composer’s long-abandoned opera, ‘The Gamblers’ (1942), inspired by Gogol’s black comedy of brutal deception and murder. Shostakovich heads this movement with a famous quotation from Pushkin, the most beloved of Russian poets: ‘The work of long-ago days…’

The final movement, written in only 2 days and just a month or so before the composer’s death, is a memorial ‘to the great Beethoven’ and begins with the famous opening arpeggios from the ‘Moonlight Sonata’.

Note by Gerard McBurney


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