LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 16.0

Help for CLASSICAL Archives


CLASSICAL Archives

CLASSICAL Archives


CLASSICAL@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Proportional Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

CLASSICAL Home

CLASSICAL Home

CLASSICAL  May 2005

CLASSICAL May 2005

Subject:

Re: Richter plays Prokofiev

From:

James Tobin <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 11 May 2005 21:18:07 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (58 lines)

First some disputed facts, then some debatable opinions.

Larry Sherwood, and my initial response:

>>Jim Tobin references Shostakovich's fourth string quartet, and some
>>cicumstances attending its early performances. ...
>>It appears that the story Jim repeated is one of the myths surrounding
>>DSCH's life.

Larry quotes Valentin Berlinksy, cellist of the Borodin quartet as saying:

>>   "There is a story in circulation that we had to play the quartet
>>   twice on this occasion, once in our genuine interpretation, and
>>   a second time 'optimistically', to convince the authorities of
>>   its 'socialist' content.  It's a pretty invention, but not true;
>>   you cannot lie in music."
>
>Larry has helped me recover my reference, which was Stormy Applause:
>Making Music in a Worker's State (1989), by Rostislav Dubinsky [Dubinskii],
>who was...  first violinist of the Borodin Quartet, as I said.

Larry correctly identifies the quartet and the year of the alleged
incident (1949, the year after all the major Soviet composers got into
BIG TROUBLE.) What Dubinsky says, in his chapter "Shostakovich," dated
1975, on page 279, is that the Borodin Quartet rehearsed secretly at
night, with muted instruments, when the quartet was new, in 1948.  A
year later, when "music seemed to be less controlled, we wrote a letter
to the Ministry of Culture, asking permission to perform the quartet in
public.  Strangely enough, we received an answer: They wanted to audition
it first....  We put our hearts and souls into the performance.  We
emphasized everything that socialist realism requires to be concealed.
We spoke the truth!  When we had finished silence fell.  ...I hastened
to say, 'Will you permit us to play it once more?' We were given a nod
of assent.  This time we played it differently.  The tempi were faster,
the sound lighter.  We removed all possible 'anti-Soviet' insinuations
from the music.  Even our faces tried to look optimistic.  We lied!  We
presented the foreboding mood of the first movement as hope for a brighter
future; the plaintive lyricism of the second as a pleasant little waltz;
the sinister muted scherzo became a cheerful dance; and the tragic Jewish
themes of the finale took on traditional Oriental coloring.  The tension
ended.  There were smiles.  We were thanked, even praised.  The music
was still banned."

Here are recollections, after many years, of two immediate witnesses to
the same event.  I have no present basis for impugning either one, so
this makes for an interesting study in historiography.  I might just add
that Dubinsky left the quartet in disgust with Soviet bureaucracy, the
same year as this incident, as an emigre to Israel.

The really interesting disagreement between the violinist and the cellist
here is whether it is possible to "lie" in music.  I do know some recorded
performances, for instance--not literally lies, of course--of Mozart
slow movements, for instance, the mood and spirit of which seems amazingly
transformed simply by different tempos.  A truly extreme, not to say
grotesque, instance is the way Saint Saens turned a can-can into a
tortoise.

Jim Tobin

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

Advanced Options


Options

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password


Search Archives

Search Archives


Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe


Archives

May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
January 2001
December 2000
November 2000
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000
July 2000
June 2000
May 2000
April 2000
March 2000
February 2000
January 2000
December 1999
November 1999
October 1999
September 1999
August 1999
July 1999
June 1999
May 1999
April 1999
March 1999
February 1999
January 1999
July 1997

ATOM RSS1 RSS2



COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM

Secured by F-Secure Anti-Virus CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager