Book Reviews 18
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A Catalogue Bibliography and Discography
Edited by Derek C. Hulme
Hardback, 701 pages.
Published by Scarecrow Press, Inc. (USA)
4720 Boston Way, Lanham, Maryland 20706
UK: contact “Plymbridge Distributors – 0044 1752 202301 / fax 0044 1752 202333 / email = email@example.com
This much-announced, much-awaited addition to the Shostakovich reader’s bookshelf finally appeared in the USA in September 2002, although the European distribution has lagged sorrowfully behind (anticipated publication date being “early 2003”).
The quantum leap from the home-published First Edition (by Kyle and Glen Music, 1982) to the elegantly presented Second Edition (Oxford University Press, 1991) is less in evidence this time round, as was to be expected, but some notable improvements have been made, as will be described.
The book’s contents read as follows (the Journal’s comments in parentheses):
Foreword to the Second Edition (by Irina Shostakovich – unchanged)
Preface (dating from 1990 – identical to the Second Edition)
Preface to the Third Edition (see below)
CATALOGUE (see below)
BBC Broadcasts (revised)
APPENDICES (revised), namely:
1 – Collections of Shostakovich’s Music and Addresses of Music Publishers
2 – Television and Theatre Productions
3 – Information on the History of Recording, Four Special USSR Recordings, the Composer on Records and Samplers of Shostakovich’s Music
4 – Chronological Chart of Main Works and Historical Events
5 – Abandoned Projects and Obscure and Doubtful Works
6 – DSCH – the Composer’s Monogram Compositions Based on DSCH by Other Hands, and Tributes
7 – Index of Russian Titles
Index of Names (figures refer to opus numbers)
Index of Compositions (figures refer to page numbers)
“In this third edition there are changes, revisions, and expansions under each opus, especially extensive in the Recordings section. Only 12 pages of the 1991 edition have remained entirely untouched. An important improvement is the substitution of hitherto unknown or approximate performance dates of many analogue recordings by the actual dates or years, disclosed in the liner notes, when transferred to digital compact discs.
Particular attention has been given to the cross-referencing of material reused in other compositions; for example in the Ballets Opp. 22, 27, and 39, the Ballet Suites and film music scores.
The Bibliography and the BBC Broadcasts section have been updated with considerable additions. The Appendices are largely unchanged, though the list of cassettes on pages 388-92 of the second edition has been deleted. A further 1545 performers have been added to the Index of Names, indicative of the flourishing interest in the works of Dmitri Shostakovich.”.
It should also be added that many references to the upcoming New Collected Works are included (DSCH Publishers, Moscow, see previous editions of the Journal), notably those intended to feature hitherto unperformed / unrecorded works (for example, the early Violin Sonata from 1945 and Two New Year Madrigals for tenor and piano (1933)).
Quite clearly the Shostakovich recording and publishing landscape is a constantly evolving one and any printed edition will be out of date before the ink is dry: whole swathes of new CDs and DVDs will be missing as will be newly-discovered sources, dedications or such like. But how to keep up? A Fourth Edition soon for 2006? Well it seems not, as Hulme concedes that:
“This must be the compiler’s final rewriting of the whole catalogue though he hopes to be spared for periodical supplementary booklets of revisions and additions.”
Perhaps his “booklet” will become a site on the World Wide Web or a CD-ROM? Given the rate at which the recorded legacy of Shostakovich’s music is growing, a six-monthly update would not be a luxury, and it’s difficult to imagine how a paper version could be produced and financed.
As regards the layout of this new edition, one particular improvement will have researchers and general readers beaming with delight – that of the addition of headers to each page in the Catalogue, allowing for an instantaneous view of the opus number and its work at the head of that page. Eureka!
Also, the performers’ names that figure in the Recordings category of each opus are not only capitalised (as per the Second Edition), but are also printed in less bold typeface, allowing for easier extraction from the mass of performers, record editors and disc numbers. Very practical for the regular user.
The overall typeface is noticeably smaller in this edition, but not excessively so. The book’s outer cover (now without dust-cover) is very attractively designed and printed; it’s certainly to be hoped that the spine is sturdier than that of OUP’s edition, which didn’t survive heavy-duty use for very long.
I’ve heard some criticism of Hulme’s dubious method of grouping together opus-less works under a letter of the alphabet (for example “Sans opus X” still marks the spot as regards a host of miscellaneous pieces such as The Black Sea or Bird of Peace). He still defends this approach, preferring it to, say, Malcolm MacDonald’s exclusively chronological presentation (cf. A Complete Catalogue, Boosey & Hawkes, 1985). The debate remains open on this matter.
Disappointing is the regurgitated “Foreword to the Second Edition” by Irina Shostakovich: surely this could have been updated too? Ditto the Preface from 1990.
But all in all – for any serious student or collector of Shostakovich recordings or scores, and certainly for any writer or researcher involved at all with his music, this book is an absolute necessity and is worth every cent of its most reasonable cover price.
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The flow of interesting books continues to emerge from Verlag Ernst Kuhn Berlin (or ‘VEK’). In this review I’m considering two fascinating new editions, the first of which Jüdische Musik in Sowjetrussland, is particularly welcome given the small number of publications available on this aspect of Russian history.
It is difficult to imagine the extent to which most Russian musicologists (even as recently as 2001) ignored the activities of the New Jewish School. For seventy-five years many Jewish founders of this genre – composers and musicians alike, simply did not exist. Some did become familiar figures on the musical scene, although few could have realized how important these composers were to be for their work with new musical styles in the twentieth century, namely the Jüdische Nationale Schule der zwanziger Jahre.
The book is jointly edited by Jascha Nemtsov and Ernst Kuhn, with German texts translated from Russian and English by Izaly Zemtsovsky, Sussman Kisselhof, Jascha Nemtsov, Beate Schroeder-Nauenburg, Leonid Sabaneyev, Galina Kopytova, Antoli Drosdov, Julian Krein, Leonid Sabaneyev and Friedrich Geiger.
The work contains twelve chapters
III. Die Herausbildung der Jüdischen Kunstmusik und ihrer Organisationsstrukturen.
IV. Leonid Sabaneyev (1881-1968) und seine Arbeiten ueber die nationale jüdische Schule in der Musik und ihre Vertreter
V. Joseph Achron (1886-1943)
VI. Michail Gnessin (1883-1957)
VII. Alexander Krein (1883-1951)
VIII. Grigori Krein (1879-1955)
IX. Lazare Saminsky (1882-1959)
X. Moshe Milner (1886-1953)
XI. Alexander Weprik (1899-1958)
XII. Schluss: Auf der suche nach einer versunkenen Welt (2001)
The first four chapters are based on the evolution and organization of the New Jewish School and their developers while the remaining chapters look at various composers and their works: Joseph Achron, Gnessin, Alexander Krein, Grigori Krein, Lazare Saminsky, Moshe Milner, Alexander Weprik. To conclude, a significant epilogue by Jascha Nemtsov / Beate Schröder describes their pioneering work in the sphere of Jewish archives. Historical texts are combined with new articles written specially for this book.
Each chapter ends with a chronological survey of compositions as well as a list of articles concerning each composer and his works. Overall, the book is compiled with much care and the clear structure makes it very readable.
A brief overview of the content. The main subjects are:
– A reflection on the specific characteristics of Jewishness in music; the question of the roots and origins of Jewish music.
– The emergence of the New Jewish School in Petersburg and Moscow; the activities of the members of the Society (the collecting of folksongs, liturgical melodies, sheet music, organization of concerts and lectures etc.) Among many important musicians and composers are reviews of Joseph Achron, Joel Engel and Lazar Saminsky, responsible for the founding, in 1908, of the Society for Jewish Folk Music in Petersburg (1908-1913).
– From 1923 until 1931 an official section of the Society for Jewish Folk Music was also established in Moscow. Composers like Krein and Gnessin played an important role in the organization of their activities.
– Chronologically-arranged reviews concerning their various activities in Petersburg (1908-1917) and Moscow (1923-1929).
– A selection of articles written by important members of the Jewish School, such as Sussman Kisselhof and Leonid Sabaneyev. Biographies of composers along with chronological surveys, combined with descriptions of some of their compositions.
Occasionally the different articles deal with very similar subject matter, although this does not pose a great problem, each author dealing with his subject in a sufficiently different manner.
Levels of accessibility vary: for example an article looking at M. Millner’s opera is not easy to follow, principally due to its intensely religious subject-matter, clearly not familiar to all.
Most notable is a fascinating portrayal of the composer Weprik, who was tortured and exiled in 1950. The author mentions the different reasons for which Weprik fell into disgrace in 1937/38 and again in 1950. The first time the likeliest cause would have been through the persecution suffered by Weprik’s sister and husband. She was sent to the Gulag, while her husband, a Communist, was shot. Finally the author adds that there is even evidence that Weprik was already a marked man in the twenties, due to his contact with A. Toscanini and Zionism!
Significant is the fact that the rise of the Jewish National School goes hand in hand with the emerging Zionism in the Soviet bourgeoisie. Jascha Nemtsov explains in the article: Leonid Sabaneyev Uber die nationale Schule in der Musik, that Sabaneyev was a vital figure in the creation and promotion of the National Jewish School and its new Jewish music. On the other hand Nemtsov points to the subjective way in which Sabaneyev tended to undertake his musical research. Sabaneyev’s article Die Nationale Jüdische Schule in der Musik (1924) is provided with additional footnotes from Nemtsov to illustrate his arguments.
Through this book it becomes increasingly evident that there are various points of view as regards the origin of Jewish music; to understand the different, fundamental opinions (quarrels even) and for a critical insight into the research into the roots of Jewish music the Introduction by M. Beregovski, Old Jewish Folk Music, is highly recommended.
It also becomes clear to the reader that certain composers of this Jewish school had many musical contacts in the West with, for example, Schoenberg and others. They also travelled extensively. Hence, the influence of the New Jewish School on twentieth-century music extended beyond the Soviet Union to Europe and even to America.
Henny van der Groep
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The articles contained in this book were written by different authors and constitute short profiles about the life and works of contemporary composers.
The volume is divided into two parts:
Part I: Patria
Galina Grigorieva – “A truly Russian composer: the music of Nikolai Sidelnikov”
Margarita Katunyan – Vladimir Martynov’s “parallel time”
Valeria Tsenova – the music of Andrei Eshpai
Viktor Suslin – “The music of spiritual independence:” Galina Ustvolskaya
Vladimir Barsky – on Boris Chaikovsky
Pyotr Pospelov – Yury Kasparov: “the tonic of musical life”
Part II: Terrae Externae
Svetlana Savenko – the Musica sacra of Arvo Pärt
Valentina Kholopova – Viktor Suslin
Yury Khopolov – Russians in England: Dmitry Smirnov, Elena Firsova
(This is the second book dealing with Russian composers in the series Music from the former USSR and, like the first volume entitled “Underground Music from the Former USSR”, is translated into English.)
A commonly asked question might be: “What happened to contemporary music in the Soviet Union after Stravinsky, Shostakovich and Prokofiev?” This book offers up a reply in the guise of a general overview of the post-avant-garde period in Russian contemporary music.
A short review in addition to analyses of some of the main works of each composer constitutes the backbone of the book. Along with these elements we are offered a brief profile of each composer combined with a consideration of the way in which their teachers and role models affected their own compositions. In addition to some detailed descriptions of the works in question, sections of scores are occasionally included, a distinct aid to understanding.
At the end of each article there is a systematic chronological review of the composer’s works. While it could appear to be superfluous to point out that each composer has is own way of embarking upon the creative process, the authors nonetheless strive to identify specific ways in which these composers differ, and stand out.
In Galina Grigorieva’s article on Sidelnikov, rhythm and jazz are brought to the fore, while Martynov comes across as a form of musical omnivore; (judging from the way in which a preoccupation with percussion and liturgy pervades the author’s impression of him). Eshpai, who worked closely with Shostakovich, is portrayed as the “Mari of the mountain,” the Mari folksongs forming the core of many of his compositions. Suslin describes Ustvolskaya, the “woman with the hammer,” as spiritually independent (Ustvolskaya’s own words in a letter to Suslin) whereas in Barsky’s article about Boris Chaikovsky, we find an altogether more philosophical view.
Yuri Kasparov’s speciality lies in his experience with film music and as a music editor.
In this way he familiarized himself with the full orchestra as well as with the world of the synthesizer. However according to author Pospelov one cannot hear the influence of film music directly in his compositions.
All of the portraits above have very clear and typical Russian characteristics – there is no doubting their roots. Whereas Arvo Pärt is said to have a so-called ‘tintinnabuli style’ (a minimalist instrumental style described here as “simple and poor”), of which Savenko describes three types, Suslin’s creative works are divided into chamber music and children’s music. “A composer, who believes that the 20th century will, in the future, be regarded as a period of crisis for the twelve-tone temperament,” states Kholopova.
The two Russian composers Smirnov and Firsova, described by Kholopov, should be treated separately, although they are mutually complementary. Both musicians have been strongly inspired by English literature: among others, Smirnov has a passion for the poet Blake, while Firsova is inspired by many lesser English poets. These influences can be found directly in their compositions.
As previously mentioned, the articles were originally written in Russian – the English translation suggesting perhaps that the book was written for a “Terra Externae.” In addition to some awkward phrases in translation, a certain number of Russian words are not translated – perhaps because of the difficulty in finding a precise enough rendering?
Certain composers listed here are virtually unknown in the West, making the book instantly valuable as the place to obtain a first introduction. The book serves as a handy reference source for musicologists and for readers interested in modern music in general. This said, and despite the inclusion of many musical examples, the unfamiliarity with some of the compositions may make understanding their detailed descriptions rather problematic.
For lovers of Dmitri Dmitriyevich’s music, the spirit of Shostakovich is ever present. The generation of modern Russian composers during and after his time would in all probability could not have developed their own style without his heritage.
To quote Schnittke: “One could name dozens of composers whose individual characteristics were formed under the hypnotic influence of Shostakovich; but one could equally divide these pupils (whether they formally attended his classes or not) into generations, through the debt they owe their teacher”.
 On Shostakovich, Alfred Schnittke. First published in G. Shneerson (Ed). D. Shostakovich. Stat’i i materialy (Articles and materials), Moscow, 1976 p. 225.
Henny van der Groep