Dmitry Shostakovich had only two brief stays in the little town of Gohrisch, but he definitely left his mark there. One result is the music festival we're visiting this week.
Growing out of an initiative of local citizens and musicians of the Staatskapelle Dresden, the International Shostakovich Days Gohrisch are rather new on the scene. "Five years ago, we didn't really know what we were doing," revealed Uwe Kunze of the Shostakovich in Gohrisch Association to DW. "We founded an association, then a festival, and got the first one going in 2010. We were naïve about it, but it was a great success. Then there was no stopping us. Now we're in our fifth year..."
Dating from 1957, Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2 is a relatively brief work coming from the time between his 10th and 11th Symphonies and written for his son Maxim Shostakovich to perform. Then 19, Maxim played it at his final concert at the Moscow Conservatory. His father actually didn't think highly of the concerto, calling it an "empty, senseless work."
That verdict is not shared by Russian pianist Anna Vinnitskaya: "I understand why Shostakovich said that about this concerto," Vinnitskaya explained to DW. "The first and third parts sound quite youthful, patriotic and somewhat military. It's as though he’s saying: 'March! March! March onward!' It’s a kind of mechanical music. But the second section is a stroke of genius, making up for everything that's missing in the first and third sections. This lyricism, that dreamy waltz! It's really first-class music!"
About his friend and fellow-composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg, Dmitri Shostakovich said, "He's different from the rest of us. He’s a slave." A Polish Jew who fled Nazi persecution in Poland, Weinberg emigrated to the Soviet Union in 1939. By 1953 he was a gulag prisoner and likely only survived because dictator Stalin died that year. The author of twenty-two symphonies and seventeen string quartets, Weinberg has been called "the third great Soviet composer, along with Prokofiev and Shostakovich." Weinberg's music is currently undergoing a revival. His Fourth Chamber Symphony for clarinet and strings dates from 1992; four years before the composer's death.
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)
Piano concerto No. 2 in F Major, op. 102
Anna Vinnistkaja, piano
Mieczysław Weinberg (1919-1996)
Chamber Symphony No. 4, op. 153
Wolfram Grosse, clarinet
Conductor: Omer Meir Wellber
Recorded by Central German Radio, Halle (MDR) in the Concert Tent in Gohrisch on September 20, 2014
Rebroadcasting rights: one broadcast before January 4, 2016