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Publisher

Boosey & Hawkes / Sikorski

Territory
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
10/1/1975
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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