Label: Channel Classics
Pieter Wispelwey, cello; Sinfonietta Cracovia, cond. by Jurjen Hempel
Dimitri Shostakovich - Concerto No.2 in G major for cello & orcherstra, op.126.
Benjamin Britten - Third Suite for Cello solo, op.87
This CD presents music composed by two striking personalities from recent 20th century musical history who were united by an intimate friendship.
Benjamin Britten had admired the work of Shostakovich since the 1930's, and since that time had been influenced by it. This was the period of Shostakovich's best known and most often performed symphony, the Fifth, written in 1937 amidst the worst terror campaign of the Stalinist regime: paranoia, spying and betrayal, the pogroms and mass executions.
In this work, Shostakovich is working a double meaning: behind a charming smile, a hideous tragedy is taking place. It is this very symphony which Britten quotes at the beginning of his Second Suite in d minor (1967), as a gesture of solidarity and sympathy.
Shostakovich wrote this, his second cello concerto in G, in 1966, and dedicated it to his dear friend, Mstislav Rostropovich who premiered the work on Shostakovich's 60th birthday.
In addition to his friendship with Shostakovich, Britten and the cellist Rostropovich had been friends since the 1960's. In fact, Rostropovich premiered three major works written for him by Britten: the Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op.65, the Symphony for cello Op.68, and The Three Suites for cello solo. In the third suite, recorded here, Britten also tipped his hat to Shostakovich by including the theme 'DSCH'.
It is a musical greeting between two friends, two soul mates who felt the approach of death and filled their music with that awareness.