Sunday 15 May 2011


Yesterday I was able to tick off two symphonies by Shostakovich, one of which I'd never played before. One of which hardly anyone has ever player before, the workers' cantata No2. I call it a cantata because it seemed to be in one movement with a lot of 'rah rah Lenin, up the workers,' singing in the second half. The chorus was singing in Russian, so I was guessing til I read the programme.

They sing a setting of 'To October,' by Aleksander Bezymensky, containing such sentiments as

The factory chimneys reached for the sky
Like arms, too weak to form fists.

Marvellous stuff. Or as I would see it lots of rests followed by the usual fff unison horn soli ending on repeated blasts of a top Bb and the concert was being recorded. Nice. The blasty bit upset the singers who were heard mumbling about, 'All I could hear was the horns...' And? All I could hear was horns 1 and 2 and the Eb clarinet and piccolo.

Then in the second half we did the fifth symphony again. Everyone knows it and it's a goody. It just is.

I can't find a fab recording on You tube because my favourite is with Mariss Jansons (my hero,) who does the accelerando in the last movement two bars early is not there. Here is a very fast performance of the last movement.

Over the last decade or so we have played nearly all of his 15 symphonies. Sometimes we have done two concerts in a year and some years none. We are due to run out in 2013, which is rather sad.

And after a surprisingly epic day of blogging, it's back to work and another shocking five day week. Where have all the Bank Holidays gone?

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