Rachmaninoff’s The Bells and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11 are now available on Instant Encore

in Featured Recordings, Instant Encore
April 9th, 2012

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In a concert titled “Requiem for a Generation,” the Boston University Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Chorus performed their second of two Symphony Hall concerts in this academic year, featuring Sergei Rachmaninoff’s The Bells and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11, The Year 1905.  Conducted by David Hoose, the pieces were selected to commemorate the generation of Russians born and educated after the revolution of 1905 who suffered atrocities unprecedented in Russian history.

The audio from this performance can be heard in its entirety on our Instant Encore page right now, and HD video of the whole concert — including a pre-concert lecture by BU professor Dr. Patrick Wood Uribe — will be available online within the next few weeks.  Become a fan of CFA Audio on Facebook to be notified as soon as the video is posted to the Virtual Concert Hall!

About the music:

Written in 1915 in response to an onomatopoeic Edgar Allen Poe poem of the same name, Rachmaninoff’s The Bells is a choral symphony sung in four parts, in allegiance to the poem.  The piece begins in glittering fantasy, with Silver Sleigh Bells and moves on to contentment tinged with reluctance in Wedding Bells; the two sections that follow move into more frightening, followed by funereal, territories, with only a twelfth-hour anticipatory tinge of redemption.  Sung here by soprano Janna Baty, baritone Anton Belov — an alumnus of Boston University — and tenor Yeghishe Manucharyan, this work embodies both the sonorous meanings held by bells in our cultural rituals and the quotidian, universal sadness created by the individual and societal struggles of the world’s citizenry.

Casting an eye over the previous half-century, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11 produces musical images of immediacy appropriate to the lurid, Technicolor era of cinema in which the piece was written (1957).  With the subject of bloody revolution in the foreground, such imagery is an effective demonstration of the role the arts can play in illuminating and reflecting the world’s most complex problems.  The Boston University College of Fine Arts’ 2011-12 Keyword: Violence is actively reflected in the composer’s conjuring of the events of Bloody Sunday and the ensuing conflict.

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