Friday, August 24, 2007

Stalin at Berlin airport!

Trying hard to finish my music course work before Tuesday when I leave for Georgia. Not totally convinced that Georgia has a working postal system, though I have heard that mail sent from there has arrived. But it's probably better sending it from Vilnius, or Austria - the last assignment is compulsory - if my tutor does not get it, I'll fail the course. I call that 'pressure'.

So the assignment prior to this one is due next week; it left on Monday - now, having spent the best part of 24 hours on harmonising a Bach chorale (there were some weird moments!) I only have a rather facile, but probably difficult to do, sort of Mozartian tune to do before Tuesday (and to read the course book first...). Ho hum. Then it's straight revision till October.

Not only was I busy with that, I was also sorting out my Ipod. You'll remember how I bought it in a hurry when my Iriver failed, and I quickly moved all the music held on the computer onto the Ipod. In the process of which it lost much of my own labelling. So I had 'Albums 1 - 70', 'unknown album' and those labelled in Japanese. Though one does get a hang of the Japanese, since they don't seem to have a word for 'op.' and some pieces were labelled 'J.S.' before the Japanese script started.

But now it's almost all sorted. Found most of the pieces with the album numbers, and many of the unknown albums, too. With the Japanese items I ended up cutting and pasting the little boxes representing the letters and somehow (can't remember how it worked, but it did) identified most of the pieces. Some pieces I just had to listen to - there are still some nice symphonic pieces around that I have not identified.....Of other items I have several variants, particularly viola music - to fill a CD people often record a variety of pieces, and often they overlap. For example I have a stunning version of the Schnittke concerto with Bashment and the Orchestra of the USSR culture ministry, which is a lot tighter than Rostropovich's conducting of the LSO. How many people have two versions of the Schnittke viola concerto and also of Kancheli's 'Styx' on their Ipod?

Used the opportunity to load on lots of other CDs (all my Ipod contents are paid for!), such as all Shostakovich's symphonies conducted by Mariss Janssons. I'm beginning to like Shostakovich more and more ; in passing I came across some of his film music (these days Naxos have many recordings of quite obscure repertoire, and you can download it - very, very tempting!).

So yesterday at the sports club, I ran to the sound track of 'The Fall of Berlin', a Soviet film. The music is really so descriptive and so Soviet realism - you can follow the story of the film (which we all know anyway) with the music and the titles of the pieces. Of course it has a human interest part as well, including the village children back in Russia, a love story, and someone dying. It's wonderful music - but in Lithuania I am unlikely to ever hear it live, even though it would be great fun to perform, especially for the percussionist (I know who I mean!). Perhaps the Berliners could perform it, no hard feelings and all that....

Given that this must be one of the most prestigious commissions for a composer ever in the Soviet Union we must assume that Shosty was by then rehabilitated after Stalin stalked out of his 'Lady Mcbeth of Mtsenk' in about 1937.