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Shosty Meets Britten: A Sonata is born.

Message from the Director,

Amahl and Petya, our  "Between Friends" artists just sent me the finalized program for  "Two Oaks Entwined"! You're going to love it!  I know I do! Check it out: Canadian Composer, Patricia Blomfield Holt, Lyric Piece no. 2 for cello and piano; L. van Beethoven, Sonata for Cello and Piano no. 4 in C Major,  Op. 102 ;

 Benjamin Britten, Sonata for Cello and Piano, opus 6; and Dmitri Shostakovich, Sonata for Cello and Piano in D minor, op. 40. Yes! All of that for just $15 a ticket thanks to the support of our donors and a grant from the Ontario Arts Council.  Be sure to get   your ticket, on line at www.qscmusic.com or at Home Hardware in Stirling. And bring a friend! 

If you recognize the works, you will know why I am excited! If you don't then read on, and even if you do, to learn more! I asked Cynthia Young, a local music teacher with a strong background in music history to talk to us about the composers the works on the program for "Between Friends, Two Oaks Entwined." Here's what she had to share to start us off.   Thank you Cynthia! 

On a September evening in 1960, Dmitri Shostakovich and Benjamin Britten were seated together at the Royal Festival Theatre where both composers were having their works performed. It was the British premiere of Shostakovich’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 40 and Msitislav Rostropovich, one of Shostakovich’s students was the cellist. Britten was so impressed by the playing that he elbowed Shostakovich in the ribs every time he heard something amazing. It must have been quite often because Shostakovich complained afterwards that he had the bruises to show for it.  

Nevertheless, he introduced Britten to Rostropovich and thus began a lifelong friendship between the composer and cellist.

Britten wrote 5 cello pieces for Rostropovich, beginning with the Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 65. The work was premiered the following year with Britten at the piano and Rastropovich on cello. The rehearsals for the performance, and later recording, were supposedly assisted by copious amounts of vodka. Britten worried that although Rostropovich was considered to be the greatest cellist of the 20th century, the cello part might be too difficult for him.

The 4 note motif in the final movement is a musical transcription of Shostakovich’s name,  Britten’s homage to the elder statesman of music. So there you have it: an Englishman, two Russians and some vodka! And both of these cello sonatas are featured on our program!