🔊 Shostakovich: String Quartet no.8, 2nd movt
Performed by Richard Tognetti and Satu Vänskä.
Here, Tognetti performs on his 1743 'Carrodus' del Gesu. He performs with the ACO Underground at The Standard, Sydney on December 2, 2012.
Stay tuned for the next post to see Tognetti's 1743 del Gesu in greater details!
Brief history of the 8th Quartet.
Tchaikovsky provides the clue, like his Sixth Symphony, the 'Pathetique', Shostakovich's Eighth Quartet is also a suicide note. Both works were composed by composers suffering suicidal depression. The only difference is that Tchaikovsky killed himself after finishing his work whilst Shostakovich refrained.
I reflected that if I die someday then it's hardly likely anyone will write a work dedicated to my memory. So I decided to write one myself. You could even write on the cover: Dedicated to the memory of the composer of this quartet.
There are many possible reasons for his depression when composing this quartet. He had never recovered from the loss of his first wife Nina Vasilievna Shostakovich née Varzar who had died in November 1954. He had married quickly afterwards but this second partnership proved unsuccessful and terminated in divorce in the summer of 1959.
He also felt that he had betrayed his principles. Under pressure from Khrushchev's officials he had recently applied to join the communist party, which he had previously sworn never to do, and for months he underwent bouts of self-loathing for his perceived cowardice and chronic sense of fear.
Finally he was beginning to have problems moving his right hand: a nightmare for any pianist. This disability would spread in the coming years causing him mobility problems in all his limbs. After years of uncertainty it was finally diagnosed in 1969 as a rare form of poliomyelitis.
The quartet had its première on the 2nd October 1960 at the Leningrad Glinka Concert Hall. It was performed by the Beethoven Quartet (Dmitri Tsyganov, Vasili Shirinsky, Vadim Borisovsky and Sergei Shirinsky). The autographed score is preserved at the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art (RGALI) in Moscow.