Wednesday, April 11, 2012

2012.04.11 Snoozing and Schmoozing With Shostakovich

Last month we went to a Boston Symphony Orchestra concert and I think I heard my symphony.

I settled into my seat for the first offering and quickly was surrounded by the gentle timbre of sleep breathing. It was Friday midday, nap time for the elderly. I found the surround sound quite soothing. No one snored.

Perhaps one day I will be snoozing like this but for now the music has the opposite effect. It brings me to the edge of my seat, stretching every awakened nerve.

Shostakovich’s #5 symphony is electric. It was very political written at the time of Stalin, a protest in the guise of great beauty. The music is full of lament especially in the Largo movement that made me cry. It was a statement the political powers would miss.

The program note called Shostakovitch a musician of great sensitivity (is there any other kind?)  who "gleefully 'pushed the envelope.' "  I grinned.

And of course the damn thing ended with a crashingly lively triumvalist march inserted, as tradition demanded, to reassure the Communist leaders that the people were SO joyous about their new regime—all grandiose bullshit of course.

(Shostakovitch added the march to save his life, the life he almost lost over one of his less subtle and more provocative pieces.)  

The commentator called Stalin's demand for cover-up marches to "fool" the people"grandiosomania"—something to watch out for.

The march worked to awaken the snoozers, however, who joined the thunderous applause clapping with vigor, and shouting, Bravo! For a long time they clapped and rejoiced, until it was time to catch the bus home. Waiting in the perpetual ladies room line I heard everyone,exclaiming to each other how “wonderful” the concert was.

Who says you don’t hear when you’re sleeping?

And you know the phony march didn’t ruin the integrity of the music or jar my soul.


JLC said...

This is strictly personal, but I need every chance to talk about it: my late husband and I met at a Boston Symphony concert (in NYC where I lived). The symphony (regardless of sleeping audience, and not always the Boston) was one of the greatest links in our lives together. So I thoroughly enjoyed your comments.

Lyn G. Brakeman said...

How romantically perfect JLC Music connects soul mates, obviously.