Wednesday, February 21, 2007

MTT's cinematic Shostakovich

Until recently, I had no idea that MTT was such a film buff. Whether he's quoting Cher from Moonstruck ("Snap out of it!), complimenting our Polish trombone player Maciej on his cowboy solo in Copland's "Buckaroo Holiday" ("The best tribute to the United States since Borat"), or recommending we check out director Andrei Tarkovsky for a flavor of Russian cinema, this week has been full of film references.

We're rehearsing Shostakovich's 5th Symphony, which we'll play this Friday in Lincoln Theatre, then Saturday in the Carnival Center (along with Shostakovich's Second Cello Concerto with Yo-Yo Ma) before taking all of it on tour to New York. MTT points out how Shostakovich structures the symphony using all sorts of film editing techniques: cross-cutting, fading in and out, dissolves, close-ups, etc. In the very beginning of the symphony, an angular, leaping figure cries out furiously in the strings, before moving off into the distance. MTT acted the whole thing out for us, becoming this angry, contorted figure first in close-up then out on the horizon. Those far-off howls and grimaces are heard in the lower strings, fading into the background as a new character emerges in the violins.

MTT will speak in detail about the symphony at the Discovery Concert on Friday (and next Wednesday in New York). Tomorrow evening at the Lincoln Theatre you can see a documentary film on the same topic, "Shostakovich Against Stalin: The War Symphonies". Check out the New World website for more information.

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