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Shostakovich Organ Works


Nick Bennett
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I know there's a passacaglia for organ but I've never heard it played. Does anybody know it? Is it hard? And did he write anything else for organ?

 

By the way, does anyone play the preludes and fugues op. 87 for piano? I've had a go at some of the simpler ones and find them fascinating. I hadn't realised until today that they were written in 1950 (or for publication then) as a homage to JSB on the bicentenary of his death.

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I know there's a passacaglia for organ but I've never heard it played. Does anybody know it? Is it hard?

I've never been inspired to learn it, but I've read it through a few times and I don't think it would take much learning. Grade 7 maybe? It's fairly orchestral in concept, so would benefit from an organ with decent resources.

 

You can find it in this excellent volume, which also contains the original (and IMO superior) version of the Mushel Toccata, along with an Aria from the same suite, and a hugely fun (and very un-French) Toccata with a lot of bitonality by Sergei Slonimsky. There are other interesting (if not downright curious) modern pieces in this collection too. Well worth getting.

 

And did he write anything else for organ?

According to Henderson's "bible", Shostakovitch included the organ in four film scores: a substantial fugue for organ and orchestra in "Golden Mountains"; two pieces in "The Gadfly" entitled Credo and The Cathedral Service (David Goode played these at a prom a couple of years ago); and in "Girl Friends" and "Five Days, Five Nights".

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I know there's a passacaglia for organ but I've never heard it played. Does anybody know it? Is it hard? And did he write anything else for organ?

Not as far as I know. This piece came about as an operatic intermezzo to "Lady Macbeth of Mzensk" mirroring dark conflicts coming up -- there is a dead body nearby while people act fairly normally on stage. The St. Petersburg/Leningrad opera house did have an organ, so the passacaglia was originally written for the instrument. For other performance vernues, the intermezzo was rewritten for orchestra.

 

I imagine that some of DSCH's music would work fine in organ arrangements, given the clear and somewhat cool linear texture of many pieces. Anyone tried the E-Minor piano trio?

 

Best,

Friedrich

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I know there's a passacaglia for organ but I've never heard it played. Does anybody know it? Is it hard? And did he write anything else for organ?

The late Alan Harverson used to feature it in recitals. I've also heard the orchestral version in electrifying productions of 'Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk' by both ENO and the Royal Opera.

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The late Alan Harverson used to feature it in recitals. I've also heard the orchestral version in electrifying productions of 'Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk' by both ENO and the Royal Opera.

It's on Herrick's Organ Fireworks IV from St Bart's New York. Quite intense! :rolleyes:

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... two pieces in "The Gadfly" entitled Credo and The Cathedral Service (David Goode played these at a prom a couple of years ago) ...

 

Both of these are recorded on a fascinating Chandos disc "Tsar of Instruments" - Iain Quinn on the Winchester Cathedral organ. Also included are works by Gliere, Glazunov, Glinka, Gretchaninov, Rachmaninov (well, sort of - it's the harmonium solo from his "Trio elegiaque") and Taneyev, represented by his complete organ work. (Yes, just one "work!")

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