Festival Strings, leader Liana Gourdjia with Caitriona Frost, Luigi Gaggero [percussion]
Yuri Serov [conductor]
Dmitri Shostakovich [1906-1975]
1. Farewell to Granada
2. Little Stars
3. The First Time I met You
5. Black-eyed Girl
Starting from Glinka’s Jota aragonesa nearly all the great Russian composers were happy to use Spanish tunes in their compositions. Musicians of the Northern land were attracted by hot rhythms and mellow harmonies of the south. Moreover from the mid-thirties the theme of Spain became a topic of the day in the Soviet Union its volunteers went to help Spanish Communists in their fight against Franco’s regime its newspapers published supporting articles and letters numerous poems and songs were composed and even chocolate factories were given Spanish names.
After the defeat of the resistance many Spanish orphan children were taken to Moscow. In the fifties singer Zara Dolukhanova the first and still unsurpassed performer of Shostakovich’s From Traditional Jewish Poetry cycle heard from one of such young men some charming traditional Spanish songs full of nostalgia for the lost homeland and of passionate lovers vows. The singer handed the recorded tunes to Shostakovich and in 1956 he adapted the melodies to create a collection which he entitled Spanish Songs.
The composition came out warm subtle and fragrant the instrumental support is transparent and neat. The cycle immediately became popular both with audiences and performers. And although the material initially handed over to the composer did not include proper translations (they were revised and improved during the entire work at the songs) while Shostakovich himself had to adjust scattered lyrics to the traditional tunes the work is amazingly organic in matching typically Spanish melodic and rhythmic patterns with words on love and separation, suffered losses and enjoyments of the first love that are so close to Russian soul and so common for the Spanish tradition in Russian culture.