Tuesday, May 26, 2009

S.Q. Daily #12: Shostakovich No. 11

S.Q. Daily: A Composer's Listening Journal

Day #12: Dmitry Shostakovich
String Quartet No. 11 in F Minor, Op. 118

My own quartet needs some inspiration and, moreso, some hard work on my part. I hope to have Movement II sketched by Saturday.

Wiki, the ever-present though tenuous source of information on everything, has a functional list of notable string quartets. Maybe I should pick from these...

Tonight on S.Q. Daily I'll give a few brief words on Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 11. Among the shortest of his fifteen quartets (which is why I chose to listen to this one while doing tonight's late-night dishes), the eleventh consists of seven miniatures, each no more than roughly four minutes.

3. Recitative has some really awesome dissonant chords - I'll have to figure them out later.
4. Etude is a brilliant, fluttering finger-study for the first violin
Movements 1, 6, and 7, while perfectly fine, are less brilliant and immediately attention-grabbing.

The set as a whole is still quite cohesive thematically, regardless of its variety of its constituent forms and moods. I believe this is due to a certain "popular" (for lack of a better word) leaning in Shostakovich's writing that strives to grab the ear on the first listen. (That's not to say that the pieces have no substance that would reward repeat hearings.) I don't know if this is an inherent element of his style, a reaction to or result of the populist guiding hand of the Party that long held sway over much of life and the arts in Russia, or what. Just an observation.

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