Shostakovich Festival - Truls Mørk

Sun 27.02.22 15:00

Dmitri Shostakovich

  • Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major, Op. 107
  • Symphony No. 11 in G minor, “The Year 1905”, Op. 103

Norwegian cellist Truls Mørk performs Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1, one of the most challenging pieces in the cello repertoire. Shostakovich composed this work in 1959, stimulated by Prokofiev’s Sinfonia concertante. The famed Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich played both works in premiere. Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 comprises four movements. The fresh, intensely rhythmic first and third movements contrast with the melancholic second movement. In the final movement, Shostakovich quotes from Stalin’s favourite song, Suliko, in an ironic fashion: after the dictator’s death he felt free to return to his own vision of formalism. Moreover, with a four-note motif – DSCH – that turns up in three of the four movements, Shostakovich self-consciously inserts his own musical signature.

Two years earlier, Shostakovich completed his Symphony No. 11. This composition, subtitled The Year 1905, describes the beginning of the 1905 revolution – Bloody Sunday – in the form of a film score without a film. On 9 January 1905, 150,000 people made for the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to hand a petition to the Tsar. But the Tsar was not present and his bodyguards opened fire on the unarmed masses. In the first movement of the symphony, an adagio, Shostakovich depicts the morning silence at the palace square, pregnant with destiny. In the second, people start to gather and march towards the palace, where they are cut down by fast strings, a massive percussion section and glissandi on trombones and tubas. The third movement is again an adagio, mourning the many victims. The finale looks to the future with hope for political change.

Shostakovich quotes from at least nine Russian folk songs in this symphony, which ensured it was instantly recognisable by Soviet audiences. This work enabled Shostakovich’s rehabilitation with the authorities following a period of tension. In 1958, he was actually awarded the Lenin Prize, one of the Soviet regime’s highest accolades.

Belgian National Orchestra
Hugh Wolff
, conductor
Truls Mørk, cello