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Maki Namekawa & Dennis Russell Davies
Two-Piano Works of Shostakovich and Stravinsky

There are many examples of major symphonies having complicated premieres but none are more intriguing than the purgatory to which Dmitri Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony was sentenced back in 1936.

To say his work, when the composer was 30 years old, met with official disapproval is an understatement. The stage was set with the grand success that Shostakovich experienced in 1934 with his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. The work was a proven success until it was denounced by Stalin himself in early 1936. It is generally accepted nowadays that the fear that was implanted in Shostakovich during this episode was the principle reason for the withdrawal of his Fourth Symphony. This kind of grotesquely choreographed dance with the authorities throughout Shostakovich’s life really began with the Pravda condemnation of Lady Macbeth and the charade around the premiere of the Fourth Symphony.

In the intervening years between 1936 and 1961 the full score to Symphony No.4 was lost. The piece ended up in the hands of the conductor Alexander Gauk who presumably lost the manuscript in a suitcase during World War II (along with the manuscripts for Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6 as well). Other people believe that the scores were burned for heat during the Siege of Leningrad, the most desperate period during the war. The possibility does remain that the manuscripts still exist locked away in some archive but they have yet to be rediscovered. In the meantime, with his Fourth Symphony in purgatory for more than a quarter century the music only existed in the orchestral parts that had been used in rehearsals, and Shostakovich’s own arrangement heard here for two pianos. From these two sources the piece was reconstructed and given its premiere in Moscow on December 30, 1961.

Shostakovich made his four-hand piano arrangement of Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms shortly after its composition in 1930. He thought well enough of his transcription that he personally presented the manuscript to Stravinsky, during his historic 1962 visit to the Soviet Union. Shostakovich’s arrangement reflects his admiration for the work in that it succeeds in preserving both the ecclesiastic ambiance and choral textures of the original. From contemporary accounts, Stravinsky’s reception of the score was unenthusiastic. Shostakovich’s relationship with Stravinsky could be termed as deeply ambivalent. In his own words, “Stravinsky the composer I worship. Stravinsky the thinker I despise.”

Concert Program

Igor Stravinsky:
Symphony of Psalms, arr. Shostakovich

INTERMISSION

Dmitri Shostakovich:
Symphony no. 4, arr. Shostakovich

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Click here to download a PDF copy of the program from this concert.

Concert Video

Dmitri Shostakovich
Two pieces from the Soviet film “Unity”

Performance by pianists Maki Namekawa and Dennis Russell Davies of two pieces of music written for the Soviet film “Unity” by Dmitri Shostakovich, arranged for 2 pianos by the composer. This performance, produced by Other Minds, took place on February 10, 2019 at the Taube Atrium Theater in San Francisco.

Igor Stravinsky
Symphony of Psalms

Performance by pianists Maki Namekawa and Dennis Russell Davies of Symphony of Psalms by Igor Stravinsky, arranged for 2 pianos by Dmitri Shostakovich. This performance, produced by Other Minds, took place on February 10, 2019 at the Taube Atrium Theater in San Francisco.

Dmitri Shostakovich – Symphony No. 4

Performance by pianists Maki Namekawa and Dennis Russell Davies of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 4, arranged for 2 pianos by the composer. This performance, produced by Other Minds, took place on February 10, 2019 at the Taube Atrium Theater in San Francisco.

Concert Audio

Dennis Russell Davies
Introductory Remarks

Introductory remarks by pianist and conductor Dennis Russell Davies for this performance, produced by Other Minds, on February 10, 2019 at the Taube Atrium Theater in San Francisco.

Dmitri Shostakovich
Two pieces from the Soviet film “Unity”

Pianists Maki Namekawa and Dennis Russell Davies play two pieces of music written for the Soviet film “Unity” by Dmitri Shostakovich, arranged for 2 pianos by the composer.

Igor Stravinsky
Symphony of Psalms

Audio from a performance by pianists Maki Namekawa and Dennis Russell Davies of Symphony of Psalms by Igor Stravinsky, arranged for 2 pianos by Dmitri Shostakovich.

Dmitri Shostakovich
Symphony No. 4, 1st movement

Audio of a performance by pianists Maki Namekawa and Dennis Russell Davies of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 4, arranged for 2 pianos by the composer.

Dmitri Shostakovich
Symphony No. 4, 2nd movement

Audio of a performance by pianists Maki Namekawa and Dennis Russell Davies of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 4, arranged for 2 pianos by the composer.

Dmitri Shostakovich
Symphony No. 4, 3rd movement

Audio of a performance by pianists Maki Namekawa and Dennis Russell Davies of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 4, arranged for 2 pianos by the composer.

Concert Photos

by Charles Amirkhanian

Concert Photos

by Ebbe Roe Yovino Smith

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