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String Quartet No 9 in E flat major Op. 117

Dmitri Shostakovich (b. 1906 - d. 1975)

Composer
Dmitri Shostakovich (b. 1906 - d. 1975)
Composition Year
1964
Work Movements
1. Moderato con moto -
2. Adagio -
3. Allegretto -
4. Adagio -
5. Allegro
Artists
Pacifica Quartet (Simin Ganatra, Sibbi Bernhardsson [violins], Masumi Per Rostad [viola], Brandon Vamos [cello]) [quartet]

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

Irina Supinskaya was introduced to Shostakovich by Lev Lebedinsky on the stairs at the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire. She was almost exactly half his age, an orphan whose father had suffered from the Personality Cult and infringement of revolutionary law as Shostakovich put it. Her grandparents perished during the siege of Leningrad and she had been evacuated across the Lake Lagoda. She had also spent time in an orphanage that housed so-called enemies of the people. They were married in November 1962 and after that he never went anywhere without her. She quickly organised his chaotic household and provided him with domestic comfort and stability and played a purifying and resurrective role for him for the rest of his life. In the opinion of Galina Vishnevskaya she created the ideal atmosphere for his work and prolonged his life by several years.


The first version of this quartet was written in the autumn of 1961, but, as the composer wry ly put it in an attack of healthy self-criticism, I burnt it in the stove. The second version took nearly another three years and was immediately followed by the Tenth Quartet in July and the two were premiered together. In 1964 the first changes in the Beethoven Quartet took place, the viola player Vadim Borisovsky retired on account of illness and was replaced by Fyodor Druzhinin, who had an extraordinary baptism of fire with this quartet, sight-reading it with the composer at his elbow.


The five movements are played without a break, though the transition from one movement to the next is unequivocally signalled. The opening is quietly mysterious with the wisp of a theme sidling in over a murmuring accompaniment. The second idea is much more rhythmical, driven forward by stinging pizzicatos. The two ideas are allowed to fade in and out of each other until you start to wonder where you are; and immediately the advent of the first Adagio is signalled by a little series of pizzicatos. This serene movement rises to hymn-like passages of disembodied beauty, the absence of pulse giving it the ephemeral quality of a dream. When the music seemingly drifts to a halt, a brief and banal little motif emerges, is repeated and suddenly transformed into the Scherzo, where it dances and leaps in wild contortions. This delicious slipping from the sublime to the absurd and indeed back again is typical of the composer’s highly developed sense of the ridiculous. The second Largo appears to continue where the first one left off but is subjected to rude, almost brutal, interruptions, the second one leading to an impassioned operatic recitative before the dream slowly fades away. There is no link to the final Allegro, which bursts in unceremoniously. The initial outburst builds up impressively before simplifying to a crude march. This is gradually overtaken by more complications including a chorale and a mock fugue and another wild recitative over a melodramatic tremolo accompaniment. After this series of internal quotations is concluded the work settles down to a hard driven finish, which leave us breathless several bars ahead of the musicians.

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String Quartet No 9 in E flat major Op. 117

Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich (b. 1906 - d. 1975)
Performance date: Saturday 1st July 2017
Venue: Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,

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Composer Dmitri Shostakovich (b. 1906 - d. 1975)
Work Title String Quartet No 9 in E flat major Op. 117
Composition Year 1964
Work Movements 1. Moderato con moto -
2. Adagio -
3. Allegretto -
4. Adagio -
5. Allegro
Language English
Artist(s) Pacifica Quartet (Simin Ganatra, Sibbi Bernhardsson [violins], Masumi Per Rostad [viola], Brandon Vamos [cello]) [quartet]
Performance Date Saturday 1st July 2017
Performance Venue Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,
Event Main Evening Concert
Duration 00:25:19
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category String Quartet
Instrumentation 2vn, va, vc
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys

Irina Supinskaya was introduced to Shostakovich by Lev Lebedinsky on the stairs at the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire. She was almost exactly half his age, an orphan whose father had suffered from the Personality Cult and infringement of revolutionary law as Shostakovich put it. Her grandparents perished during the siege of Leningrad and she had been evacuated across the Lake Lagoda. She had also spent time in an orphanage that housed so-called enemies of the people. They were married in November 1962 and after that he never went anywhere without her. She quickly organised his chaotic household and provided him with domestic comfort and stability and played a purifying and resurrective role for him for the rest of his life. In the opinion of Galina Vishnevskaya she created the ideal atmosphere for his work and prolonged his life by several years.


The first version of this quartet was written in the autumn of 1961, but, as the composer wry ly put it in an attack of healthy self-criticism, I burnt it in the stove. The second version took nearly another three years and was immediately followed by the Tenth Quartet in July and the two were premiered together. In 1964 the first changes in the Beethoven Quartet took place, the viola player Vadim Borisovsky retired on account of illness and was replaced by Fyodor Druzhinin, who had an extraordinary baptism of fire with this quartet, sight-reading it with the composer at his elbow.


The five movements are played without a break, though the transition from one movement to the next is unequivocally signalled. The opening is quietly mysterious with the wisp of a theme sidling in over a murmuring accompaniment. The second idea is much more rhythmical, driven forward by stinging pizzicatos. The two ideas are allowed to fade in and out of each other until you start to wonder where you are; and immediately the advent of the first Adagio is signalled by a little series of pizzicatos. This serene movement rises to hymn-like passages of disembodied beauty, the absence of pulse giving it the ephemeral quality of a dream. When the music seemingly drifts to a halt, a brief and banal little motif emerges, is repeated and suddenly transformed into the Scherzo, where it dances and leaps in wild contortions. This delicious slipping from the sublime to the absurd and indeed back again is typical of the composer’s highly developed sense of the ridiculous. The second Largo appears to continue where the first one left off but is subjected to rude, almost brutal, interruptions, the second one leading to an impassioned operatic recitative before the dream slowly fades away. There is no link to the final Allegro, which bursts in unceremoniously. The initial outburst builds up impressively before simplifying to a crude march. This is gradually overtaken by more complications including a chorale and a mock fugue and another wild recitative over a melodramatic tremolo accompaniment. After this series of internal quotations is concluded the work settles down to a hard driven finish, which leave us breathless several bars ahead of the musicians.