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The Toy Shop: Shostakovich 15

  • St. Peter's Church Kensington Park Rd W11 2PN United Kingdom (map)
Soprano Lucy Knight

Soprano Lucy Knight


Rossini William Tell Overture
Britten Les Illuminations
Shostakovich Symphony 15

Conductor Graham Ross
Soprano Lucy Knight

Shostakovich Symphony No. 15 in A major (Opus 141), his last, was written in a little over a month during the summer of 1971 in Repino. It was first performed in Moscow on 8 January 1972 by the All-Union Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra under Maxim Shostakovich.

Shostakovich originally subtitled the first movement to "The Toyshop", referring to a superficial sense of childlike innocence and naiveté which is soon corrupted. It opens with two chimes on the glockenspiel and a lengthy passage for the solo flute, growing out of a quirky five-note motif which flits between A♭ major and A minor, accompanied by slow-changing but lively chords for pizzicato strings. A♭ being As in German notation, these five notes, E♭-A♭-C-B-A, spell out the name "SASCHA", the name of his grandson who was nine years old at the time.

The symphony is notable for many things, among them its eerie coda on a sustained pedal point in the strings supporting an astonishing percussion toccata featuring castanets, snare drum, wood block, xylophone, and triangle [...more from Wikipedia].

Earlier Event: June 21
Newbury Choral Society
Later Event: November 8
Variations on a Rococo Theme