Symphony No. 14
the best consolation is through misery. I’ve salved a broken
heart with Schubert’s Winterreise, and recently mourned
the death of Democracy with the Berlioz Requiem.
But the grieving that’s needed now is going to infect us
for a while, even as we regroup and strategize the new fight.
So we need something affecting and profound.
composer Dmitri Shostakovich fought that fight all his creative
life, most famously beginning in 1936 when his music was
denounced by Pravda (“Muddle instead of music”) in
an unsigned piece that probably originated with Stalin himself.
It was touch and go for the rest of the composer’s life,
as he was forced to redeem himself periodically with music
that could be judged by one of the asinine Soviet committees
as being not too “formalist.”
By 1969, the 63-year-old composer was seriously ill and
contemplating his own death. But he characterized his Symphony
No. 14, written over a short period of time, as a protest
against death—as well as against persecution.
a very dark piece,” says Ann-Marie Barker Schwartz, who,
as director of the Siena College Music Series, chose the
work for the 8 PM concert tonight (Thursday) at the Troy
Savings Bank Music Hall. “It’s also very moving and a little
The work, clearly inspired by Mussorgsky’s “Songs and Dances
of Death” (which Shostakovich orchestrated in 1962), is
a setting of eleven fairly morbid poems by Lorca, Apollinaire,
Küchelbecker and Rilke, with accompaniment by an orchestra
of strings and percussion.
Featured in the performance are two former Glimmerglass
Opera Young American Artists: soprano Erika Rauer and bass-baritone
Daniel Gross (pictured). The Franciscan Chamber Orchestra
will be conducted by Lanfranco Marcelletti.
orchestra and singers are thrilled to be playing this work,”
says Barker Schwartz, who herself is a violinist with the
ensemble. “It’s a piece that doesn’t get programmed very
often, but is a profound experience for players and listeners
Although Shostakovich’s original manuscript featured Russian
translations of the poems, he soon gave approval to a version
presenting the poems in their original languages, which
is what we’ll hear at tonight’s concert.
There is a dramatic progression in the work, both in the
texture of the various combinations of voices and instruments
and in the textual movement from 20th-century Spain to the
Rhine of the middle ages. The final four sections chart
a particularly poignant path, as a sarcastic verse by Apollinaire
(“Reply of the Zaporozhean Cossacks to the Sultan of Constantinople,”
a piece the composer also saw as a portrait of Stalin) gives
way to a celebration of the artist (“O Delvig! Delvig!”)
and then Rilke’s reflection of an artist’s death, before
ending with the sardonic drumbeats underscoring “Death is
immense/We belong to him/Of the laughing mouth.”
A free preconcert talk will be given at 7 PM at St. Paul’s
Episcopal Church (Third and State streets, a block from
the Music Hall) featuring soprano Phyllis Curtain, who sang
in the U.S. premiere of the symphony, and Maestro Marcelletti.
The Franciscan Chamber Orchestra will perform Dmitri Shostakovich
Symphony No. 14 tonight (Thursday) at the Troy Savings
Bank Music Hall (Second and State streets, Troy). Tickets
for the 8 PM concert are $23 (students $10); call 273-0038
going to take things back about a quarter-century, to a
place where nobody dared to go. A place where a million
lights danced. A land of hopes and dreams—and expertly choreographed
roller-disco. They call it Xanadu.
in 1980, Olivia Newton-John was hot—as an actress and singer,
that is. Her star turn as Sandy in Grease had her
in high demand, the soundtrack album was selling by the
truckload, and audiences wanted more. What they got was
a Xanadu—a “dazzling romantic musical comedy” (the
filmmakers’ words, not ours) about a reincarnated Greek
muse, a visibly uncomfortable Gene Kelly, and a whole bunch
of rollerskating. We’re not sure what that all was supposed
to add up to, but we do know that while the half-baked film
essentially halted Newton-John’s acting career in its tracks,
it did add some great musical moments to her singing career,
including the sublime title song (a collaboration with Electric
Light Orchestra). And we still can’t get over the
crush that our inner 5-year-old has on her.
Back in the here and now, the still-stunning Aussie will
perform selections from her 30-year career—presumably including
some of those Grease tunes—at the Palace Theater
this Friday night (Nov. 12). She will be accompanied by
the Albany Symphony Orchestra. Tickets for the 7:30 PM performance
are $60 and $50, and are available at the Palace box office
or by calling 465-3334.
brassy exuberance of the Andrews Sisters is an indelible
part of 1940s, World War II-era pop culture. Whether popping
up as the musical relief in Abbott and Costello comedies,
performing USO shows for the troops or singing Christmas
carols with Bing Crosby, the Andrew Sisters were everywhere.
The fact that we still remember them owes as much to their
personalities as it does to their often ear-defying vocal
Both are honored in Sisters of Swing, a tribute to
Patty, Maxine and LaVerne that opens tomorrow night at Capital
Repertory Theatre. It will be interesting to see how the
show will balance their razzle-dazzle musical fun with the
fact that the three sisters didn’t actually get along all
that well. Ah, but that’s show biz!
of Swing—The Story of the Andrews Sisters opens with
preview performances tomorrow (Friday, Nov. 12) through
Tuesday (Nov. 16); the regular run begins Wednesday (Nov.
17) and continues through Dec. 19 at Capital Repertory Theatre
(111 N. Pearl St., Albany). Performances are at 7:30 PM
Tuesday through Thursday; 8 PM Friday; 4 and 8:30 PM Saturday;
and 2:30 PM Sunday. Preview tickets are $30-$25; regular-run
tickets are $40-$32. For reservations and information, call
445-7469 or visit www.capitalrep.org.