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Saturday, August 11, 2007

I Musici

Earlier this week I attended a cello masterclass, where the best student played the first movement of a Shostakovich sonata. I never knew which sonata it was at the time, and because I'm so completely unknown within the Conservatory, I didn't dare ask anybody what it was. But it was the most beautiful piece I'd ever heard. Tonight the Master himself, the fabulous Yuli Turovsky, played the entire Sonata (in D minor, Op. 40, if you're interested). Shostakovich fascinates me. I wouldn't even have known what his music sounded like before this week; I might have guessed he was something like Shoenberg.

At one point during the masterclass (at many points, in fact, but this one in particular) Mr. Turovsky stopped the cellist and said, "In Russia, there is a profession among women who go to funerals, and cry." Those words gave way to a demonstration of how the cello should simulate this (a sung demonstration). It is absolutely impossible for any instrument to be more heart-rendingly beautiful than the cello. I simply must learn to play it.

The concert was fantastic, and Mr. Turovsky is amazing. And Shostakovich is entrancing. And, although it's a little excessive of me to insist on learning to play every instrument after hearing a piece played particularly well on it, the cello is an exception.

2 comments:

Amy said...

I think composers should learn to play all the instruments they compose for, at least rudimentarily.

And also they should learn to juggle and do back flips. Get right on that, will you?

mēgan said...

Good thing I plan on composing a kazoo octet for next year's competition; I've been wanting to learn to play it for a long time now. It shall be accompanied by an orchestra of slide-whistles. And a posse of clowns on unicycles (they can do the juggling). And wop-wop dancing, with spades and knee-bending. And maybe poodles; they can do the back flips.