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MSO features Shostakovich

November 14, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- After four notes, Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich's presence was announced at The Maryland Theatre on Saturday, for those with a discerning ear.

"Violoncello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major" was unmistakably his.

Speaking before the performance, Elizabeth Schulze, the Maryland Symphony Orchestra's music director, said Shostakovich's musical signature was in the same vein as cartoonist Al Hirschfeld marking his drawings by hiding his daughter Nina's name in them.

Schulze described to the audience how Shostakovich took a few notes from one of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's favorite folk songs, then shaped them with sarcasm and commentary, as part of a piece marked by "fierceness."

Cello soloist Lukasz Szyrner recalled that, as a boy growing up in Poland, he heard, on the radio, Yo-Yo Ma play Shostakovich from Leningrad. He listened to a recording of the piece many times and hoped one day to play it.


"This is a great opportunity," he said of his chance to play the piece with the MSO as a featured soloist.

The MSO brought together the music of Shostakovich and German composer Ludwig van Beethoven on Saturday during a MasterWorks show.

In Beethoven's "Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major," the first movement depicts battle, the second is funeral music and the third captures a triumphant hero dancing with the masses, Schulze said before the show.

The other Beethoven piece the symphony performed, "The Coriolan Overture," was about a Roman general who was a doomed hero, she said.

As they waited for the performance to start, Terry and Judy Gossard of Funkstown said they used to have MSO season tickets, but now get to concerts when they can.

Judy Gossard said Saturday's performance was appealing because it featured the cello, which her granddaughter plays.

Jon and DeeDee Hinson of Orlando, Fla., were at the show to see Jon's sister, who plays the violin, and her husband, who plays the trumpet.

On stage, Tony Dahbura, the president of the MSO board, urged the audience to donate to the organization's annual fund drive.

He said it costs more than $95,000 for a MasterWorks weekend, but ticket sales only cover about half of the expense.

The symphony will perform again Sunday at 3 p.m.

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