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September 28, 2014

24 hours later and the Shostakovich will not leave my head!

D E-flat C B-natural.  D E-flat C B. D E-flat C B.

E-flat is ‘Es’ and B-natural is ‘H’ in German; thus spelling out DSCH for Dmitri Schostakowitsch.  (In German, B-flat is called ‘B’ which makes no sense to me, but then Bach can also spell his name in notes: B-flat A C B-natural)


It was his personal musical motif and it’s quite prevalent in his Symphony #10 which we played last night in celebration of our conductor’s tenth season with us.  (So technically, DSCH has been running through my head for the last five weeks since we began rehearsals. Go play it on the piano and it will be stuck in your head too; it’s catchy!)

This was one of the most difficult pieces we’ve performed, and one reason I love my orchestra is that we can even attempt works like this.  Many community orchestras can’t even dream of playing Shostakovich.  While it wasn’t a perfect performance, I feel like we did it justice and it was tremendous fun!  Dissonant, crazy fast, insane in spots, but always fun! And surprisingly tonal in places, even when the key signature was five flats and every other note had a natural or a sharp next to it!  I felt really good about my own part in it, despite not practicing all summer and trying to build up my endurance again for the 55+ minute feat.

I was practicing yesterday morning and E asked when I would be done “prac-sti-sting.”  I told him I’d be done in a few minutes and he then said, “It’s sounding really good!”  He’s getting so much more articulate these days, although I think he really just wanted me to be done so he could watch a promised movie.  It was pouring rain outside.  I had the windows open and my cello was just soaking up the humidity.  It loves wet weather and always sounds so much better when it rains.  I almost didn’t want to quit practicing, although I also didn’t want to overdo it and not have any energy left for the concert.

I will actually miss practicing this piece, although DH and the boys will probably enjoy a break from the sounds of Soviet oppression.  The second movement in particular is a quite terrifying musical portrait of the Stalin years.   Our next concert is Dvorak and Beethoven, which will be a little easier on the ears.

We’re playing quite a few amazing pieces this season: Dvorak Symphony #8, Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony, Haydn’s Creation oratorio, Finlandia, and the Beethoven Violin Concerto.  I’m still figuring out just how to balance practicing with homeschooling with baby with general upkeep of hearth and home.  I don’t expect to ever get it figured out; it’s just one more challenge, but it’s good to get back to playing.

Now to get something a little less crazy stuck in my head.  It could take a while; A and C are also singing Shostakovich today.  I’ve corrupted them.


Baby A is mesmerized by the cello, no matter what I play.  She had a fit the other night because DH was trying to put her to bed and I was out practicing and she knew it!  She was not happy and he finally had to bring her back out until I was finished.

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