Dmitri Shostakovich – The Two Violin Sonatas and Rare Chamber Works – Sasha Rozhdestvensky, Jeremy Menuhin, Mookie Lee-Menuhin, Ilona Domnich, Alexandra Sherman (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:09:44 minutes | 1,14 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: highresaudio.com | Digital Booklet | © First Hand Records
Recorded: at Menuhin Hall, Yehudi Menuhin School, Cobham, Surrey, UK, 8-9 January (1-5), 10 January (6-8) & 11 January 2015 (9)
The recording focusses on the music for violin and piano written by Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975), himself a pianist of no mean ability who chose to restrict public performances to those of his own works, and who also made recordings of his concertos and solo pieces.
It was for David Oistrakh that Shostakovich wrote his Violin Sonata, having earlier written two concertos for the soloist. The second of these emerged in 1967 as an intended sixtieth birthday present for Oistrakh, but the composer misjudged the date by a full year and thus undertook the present work to make good the error. Composed between 26 August and 23 October 1968, the Sonata was given a private hearing by Oistrakh with the composer (and Shostakovich confidante) Mieczysław Weinberg as pianist on 8 January 1969; the public premiere following in Moscow – by Oistrakh and Svyatoslav Richter – on 3 May. Long considered one of Shostakovich’s most forbidding works, recent years have none the less confirmed its personal usage of serial thinking within a powerfully classical framework.
It was quite recently that evidence came to light of a violin sonata that Shostakovich had begun during the summer of 1945, only to abandon the piece forthwith. What remains is a torso of 225 bars and comprises a double exposition, followed by an 8-bar fragment which marks the start of the development. The manuscript was edited for publication (in the Collected Edition of Shostakovich’s works) by Manashir Yakubov, who also showed it to the composer Alfred Schnittke in the hope he might undertake a completion. The latter, however, declined to do so on the basis that the lengthy and tonally wide-ranging nature of the double exposition would require an equally extensive development, pushing this first movement alone to considerable proportions and hence a reason why Shostakovich abandoned this work in the first instance.
Shostakovich and Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) were remote from each other as individuals, with the former’s admiration for the latter expressly on the basis of certain compositions (and as such was not reciprocated). One of these was Symphony of Psalms, of which Shostakovich spoke with admiration on several occasions, having made a four-hand piano transcription soon after the work’s première and publication in 1930. It received no public hearing, the autograph being found among Shostakovich’s papers after his death, though the latter did present a copy of it to Stravinsky on his return visit to the USSR in 1962.
Among Shostakovich’s various unrealized plans for opera, none is more intriguing than that of Chekhov’s 1894 short story The Black Monk. Although this advanced no further than brief sketches, the composer did manage a transcription of the song La Serenata by Gaetano Braga (1829-1907) which features in the story and which would no doubt have played a notable role in the opera. This setting of the Italian text by Marco Marcelliano Marcello (1820-1865) in a Russian translation by A. Gorchakova, adapted by Shostakovich, was completed on 25 September 1972 (Shostakovich’s 66th birthday) and unheard for over a decade. Its scoring for soprano and mezzo singers, violin and piano preserves this song’s essentially nostalgic essence but gives little indication as to the content of the opera such as Shostakovich might have conceived it.
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)
Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 134 (1968) 32:36
1. I. Andante 10:48
2. II. Allegretto 6:36
3. III Largo – Andante 15:12
4. Unfinished Sonata for Violin and Piano (1945) 5:03
5. Andantino from String Quartet No. 4 6:50
(arr. violin & piano by Dmitri Tsyganov, early-mid 1960s)
Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)
Symphony of Psalms 19:15
(arr. piano duet by Dmitri Shostakovich, c.1930)
6. I. Exaudi orationem meam, Domine 03:04
7. II. Expectans expectavi, Dominum 06:07
8. III. Alleluia. Laudate Dominum 10:04
Gaetano Braga (1829-1907)
9. La Serenata – A Walachian Legend 5:08
(Andante con moto)
(transcr. soprano, mezzo-soprano, violin & piano by Dmitri Shostakovich, 1972)
Sasha Rozhdestvensky, violin
Jeremy Menuhin, piano
Mookie Lee-Menuhin, piano
Ilona Domnich, soprano
Alexandra Sherman, mezzo