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ProMusica Guest Artist, Cellist Natalie Clein & Boyce Lancaster Discuss Shostakovich Cello Cto No. 1

Credit Natalie Clein
Natalie Clein plays the 1st Cello Concerto by Dmitri Shostakovich with ProMusica Chamber Orchestra Dec. 9-10, 2017.

The Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 one is simultaneously defiant, heartbreaking, sarcastic, and therapeutic, Composers in the Soviet Union worked under incredible repression. ProMusica's Principal cellist Marc Moskovitz writes that anything which did not "further the “good will” of the people, was deemed inappropriate. Consequently, Shostakovich was forced to resign his professorship and publicly apologize for his work."

Natalie Clein and I dug a little deeper into the composer's life - and how understanding the world in which Shostakovich lived informs her performance.


Along with the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 with Natalie Clein, ProMusica performs Beethoven's 3rd Symphony, the Eroica, and an amazing piece for strings by London-born composer Anna Clyne called Within Her Arms, a piece she dedicated to her late mother. The music is compared to works by Thomas Tallis and the haunting Adagio by Samuel Barber.

While Clyne does not give specific program notes about the piece, she includes this poem by way of explanation.

Earth will keep you tight within her arms dear one— So that tomorrow you will be transformed into flowers— This flower smiling quietly in this morning field— This morning you will weep no more dear one— For we have gone through too deep a night. This morning, yes, this morning, I kneel down on the green grass— And I notice your presence. Flowers, that speak to me in silence. The message of love and understanding has indeed come. —Thich Nhat Hanh

Performances are Saturday evening at 5:30pm at Worthingtron United Methodist Church - and Sunday evening at 7:00pm at the Southern Theatre.