Friday, 8 April 2016

Shostakovich covers

Having been stunned by the Fran├žoise-Green Piano Duo playing Mahler's Sixth Symphony in Zemlinsky's arrangement last night, I came across two rather more outlandish adaptations, this time of Shostakovich. Heavy metal wouldn't work for the greater part of the works in question, but to paraphrase Iestyn Davies, who drew our attention to the string quartet movement below, it's somehow how I also imagined the movements in question. Here's the whirlwind scherzo of the Tenth Symphony from Conor Gallagher x 4 (plus some wacky drumming).

There's only one snag - the very few bars of p and pp can't be achieved in this medium. Of course we also have an invaluable four-hand version from Shostakovich himself and his great acolyte Miecsylaw Weinberg, briefly available on the short-lived Revelation label but helpfully up on YouTube with a rather odd accompanying photo.

The whole performance is available in a single slice on YouTube too. Finally, let's hear the talented Mr Gallagher in the 'cover' which led to my finding the above, of the Eighth String Quartet's second movement. The quotation from the Second Piano Trio sounds especially wild and unexpected on electric guitars.


Andrew Morris said...

Wow! I was utterly unable to suppress a giant grin throughout both of Gallagher's arrangements. Excellent work.

Andrew Morris said...

There's another:

The video description includes the following, which I think is worth reproducing and reading in full. Says a lot about all parties involved, I think:

"Unfortunately the previous video was taken down due to Copyright Issues. So I'd like to just state the following:

"Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by Copyright Statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favour of fair use.

"I do not own the rights to this symphony, all rights are held by Boosey and Hawkes. No Copyright Infringement intended - only entertainment and educational.

"I have had many, many requests from teachers and musicians around the world asking to use this video to show pupils and other musicians a new approach to pre-existing music. I have been told that it is inspiring, innovative and unique. Advancing music knowledge and understanding, combining genres is only furthering music education and understanding. This is fair use."

David said...

Blimey! I saw that one and didn't listen, partly because I dislike the finale of Shostakovich 5, and I wondered how the hell he would manage the quiet bit in the middle. But on your recommendation I've just listened. In fact the transcription does become a bit Hooked on Classics for a moment in the middle, and inevitably the build to the final thrash isn't quite as exciting as in the original. But the whole is, again, so impressive.

The copyright issue is depressingly familiar, and Gallagher's response very noble. As I wrote in the YouTube comments, Boosey's time with the big boys will be over when Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Strauss come out of copyright.

Going to use all of these in educational work and lectures where relevant. Inspirational stuff.

Susan Scheid said...

These are brilliant! Thanks for spotting, David--and Andrew. Really made my day.

David said...

Sure you'll spread the word, Sue. As the genius performer says, his films have made a big impact in education, and that's wonderful.

On the education note, I've just come back from the latest National Youth Orchestra concert. Electrifying - most physically exciting complete Firebird I've ever heard. Got to write it up now.

Graham said...

Not Shostakovich, but this recording is phenomenal, I think, and there's a fun audio clip on the label's website:
The complete album is on Spotify.

David said...

Well, Graham, the Danse Sacrale becomes something else altogether there - lacking the danger of the original, IMO. Though I love Ellington's Nutcracker Sweeties, or whatever it's called. What amazes me about Mr. Gallagher's inventions are that they're utterly faithful, yet new, finding what's possible in the piece itself. Ditto that Danish accordion duo Mythos's Petrushka. In a different sphere, there's the Firebird Khorovod as the Tin Pan Alley standard 'Summer moon'.

Your opinion on the Shostakovich treatments?

Graham said...

Ellington Nutcracker and Mythos Petrushka are both very special.
The Gallagher guitar covers are phenomenal, esp the rapid semiquavers in the 10th scherzo. Yes - both arrangements are very faithful - you hope that DS wouldn't object. Did you get that Naxos cd of jazzy Nielsen song covers?

David said...

No, Graham, not yet. Though the songs are the one sphere of Nielsen which interest me less - they're a phenomenon in that they became treated as Danish folksongs, and everyone in Denmark knows them. But since we don't, the piquancy of comparing with the originals might be lost. If it's good in itself, though, why not?