Written With the Heart’s Blood
New Century Chamber Orchestra featuring Stuart Canin performs Chamber Symphony for Strings Opus 110a, Two Pieces for String Octet Opus 11, Symphony for Strings Opus 118a.
Best Small Ensemble Performance.
--Grammy nomination 1997
The poet Carl Sandburg once said that Shostakovich's music is music "written with the heart's blood", and it was this feeling that enabled my colleagues and me in the New Century Chamber Orchestra to maintain the passionate energy needed to record these magnificent works.
The power of Shostakovich's music is evidenced by the fact that its composer used it as a weapon in the fight against Hitler: witness the 7th [Leningrad] Symphony, written in 1942, which became the worldwide symbol of resistance against Nazism.
The dedication of the Eighth String Quartet "to the memory of the victims of fascism and war" was a constant reminder to us musicians of how visceral Shostakovich's music is; and yet the recurring motifs of hope and renewal show that Shostakovich was ever a human being, always hopeful of an end to dark times.
--Stuart Canin, Music Director
Chamber Symphony for Strings, Opus 110a
arranged from Quartet No. 8 by Rudolf Barshai
Shostakovich composed his Quartet No. 8 in the astonishingly short period of three days in July 1960 at Dresden, where he was working on the music for a war film about the destruction of that city called "Five Days - Five Nights". The feelings aroused at that time catapulted Shostakovich to create an "autobiographical" work in five continuous movements in which the composer was replaying the significant events of his life.
Two Pieces for String Octet, Opus 11
The Prelude was composed in Leningrad in 1924 and the Scherzo followed in 1925. He drafted also a fugue as part of this opus but decided never to publish it. The first performance of his Opus 11 took place at the Mozart Concert Hall in Moscow (now called the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater) on January 9, 1927. What most biographers ignore or omit is that Shostakovich's octet pieces were written concurrently with his First Symphony, and although composed for a small group of strings, were Shostakovich's experiment in creating an overwhelming "symphonic" texture with few musical resources. His mood at that time was demonic, pessimistic and tumultuous.
Symphony for Strings, Opus 118a
arranged from Quartet No. 10 by Rudolf Barshai
Shostakovich composed his Tenth Quartet during a very busy summer in 1964. The year began with an enormous tribute to the composer when the Modern Music Festival in Gorky was devoted entirely to Shostakovich's music. This event brought international attention to the composer and his music. He traveled from Gorky to Leningrad to oversee the Lenfilm Studios production of Hamlet. Then for the next three months he traveled to Moscow, Central Asia, and then back to Moscow and Leningrad. He was at his dacha at Zhukovka in early May when he began composing his Tenth Quartet, dedicated to his third wife, Irina. By August the quartet was completed. The work was premiered on November 20 by the Beethoven Quartet at the Moscow Conservatory.
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