I’m planning another short week of Shostakovich blogging with the Thanksgiving holiday coming up on Thursday. Along with braving the pre-holiday grocery store crowds I hope to get through the composer’s first jazz suite and his music for the film Maxim’s Youth, which by my count will round out my survey of his works from 1934, another prolific year for the composer.
I’m happy that with the cello sonata I’ve reached the opus-forties, an auspicious if arbitrary group of eleven Shostakovich works (two film scores share op. 41). Besides the sonata, of which I’m a newly minted fan, the pieces include the fourth and fifth symphonies and the first string quartet. Those works, not coincidentally, correspond to a political low point in the mid- to late 1930s, for Shostakovich and for the USSR, but they mark his metamorphosis from a composer of operas and ballets into a composer of more abstract symphonies and chamber music. His career as a film composer remained relatively constant through that time. Doing some back-of-the-envelope scheduling, I hope to cover about that much musical ground before I take a longer break for Christmas next month.