An event of Dom Radio residency
An event of Dom Radio residency
An event of Dom Radio residency
An event of Dom Radio residency
An event of Dom Radio residency
An event of Dom Radio residency
An event of Dom Radio residency
An event of Dom Radio residency
An event of Dom Radio residency
November 27, 18:00

Concert of musicAeterna choir: Britten, Shostakovich, Syumak

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Program

Benjamin Britten (1913–1976)
Advance Democracy for choir a capella (1938)

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975)
Ten Poems on Texts of Revolutionary Poets for mixed choir, unaccompanied op. 88 (1951)

Alexey Sioumak (b. 1976)
1948 for mixed choir and two bass drums (2021)

Duration: 1 hour

Details

The musicAeterna choir presents a selection from programmes performed during the musicAeterna residency in Lucerne in September 2021.

The concert will open with a rarely performed work by the British classic Benjamin Britten. The three-minute choral work, Advance Democracy, is an undisguised piece of political propaganda commissioned by the London Co-operative Society on the verge of the Second World War. The choral pamphlet to lyrics by Randall Swingler paints a dismal picture of the dictatorship that will inevitably come if European democracies do not rise up and defend themselves. Britten’s solution to the challenge is paradoxical: while the choir recites the lines of this proclamation, soft vocalise ‘embraces’ the recitative and flows from part to part, from soprano to bass and back again. The short piece concludes with a luminous Britten C major: it is not just an exclamation mark but a promise of victory.

The centrepiece of the programme, Ten Poems on Texts of Revolutionary Poets, was written by Dmitri Shostakovich in March 1951. Along with the oratorio Song of the Forests and the cantata The Sun Shines over Our Motherland, the choral cycle was supposed to become a protection for the disgraced composer, whose music had been banned from performing after the 1948 Central Committee’s decree against the ‘formalist composers’. On 10 October 1951, the choral poems premiered at the Moscow Conservatory, and in 1952, Shostakovich received the Stalin Prize for them. Ten Poems on Texts of Revolutionary Poets is generally regarded as a compromise work. But the Aesopian language used by Shostakovich throughout his life is also present in this ‘loyal’ work. For example, Shostakovich’s friend and secretary Isaak Glikman associated the eighth poem, They Were Victorious, with the pressure from the Party elite the composer had to endure. Moreover, researcher Alexander Tevosyan found similarities between Shostakovich’s choruses and the semantic accents of the All-night vigil; he suggested that the composer’s choral poems were a continuation of the Russian religious choral tradition, which in the 20th century had to reorient towards ‘revolutionary’ texts.

Alexey Sioumak, a prominent composer of the 40-something generation, wrote this opus on commission from the musicAeterna choir. The composition for mixed choir and two bass drums, ‘1948’, responds to Shostakovich. The piece centres on the 1948 decree of the Central Committee that accused the composer of formalism, and it gives a free (and very dramatic) interpretation of Shostakovich’s responses to the state persecution. In 1948, the composer began to write a venomous satire on a meeting of the Politburo, entitled Anti-Formalist Rayok (completed in 1968), and composed a vocal cycle, From Jewish Folk Poetry, which was a reaction to the anti-Semitic campaign raging at the same time. The world premiere of Alexey Sioumak’s ‘1948’ performed by the musicAeterna choir took place on September 25, 2021, at the ‘Shostakovich. The 20th Century’ international art festival.

Participants:

musicAeterna choir, Vitaly Polonsky

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November 27, 18:00

Concert of musicAeterna choir: Britten, Shostakovich, Syumak

Buy Ticket