Special Reports

[Off The Beaten Path]
International Shostakovich Days Gohrisch

March 31, 2015

Location: Gohrisch, GERMANY
June 19-21, 2015

What’s this? A world-class Shostakovich Festival in the Saxon mountains? Since 2010, the annual International Shostakovich Days Gohrisch has been offering composer-focussed programs with a mix of legendary names and talented young artists. Despite its remote location, Gohrisch, a town 24 miles outside Dresden, goes down in history as the place where Shostakovich wrote his Eighth String Quartet—the only work he wrote outside the Soviet Union.

The event, at least for now, mostly draws its audience from the local region, contributing to the unpretentious atmosphere. In the absence of a proper hall, concerts take place either in a circus tent or a barn—the high quality music-making outshines the need for luxury. With an annual budget of approximately $168,000, 40 percent of which is provided by the State of Saxony, all musicians perform for no fee, in exchange for room and board.

I will never forget the sight of Gidon Kremer in his arrangement of Gubaidulina’s Reflections on B-A-C-H as rain pounded onto the tent’s plastic roof last year. Or the chemistry between the young pianist Anna Vinitskaya and conductor Omer Meir Wellber in a performance of Shostakovich’s Second Piano Concerto with the Kremerata Baltica.

Every edition explores Shostakovich through a new lens by thoughtfully integrating 20th-century and contemporary repertoire. In 2012, concerts explored Shostakovich’s legendary friendship with Britten, culminating in searing final concert with the Staatskapelle Dresden under Mikhail Jurowski. This year’s program will revolve around the music of Arvo Pärt and Vsevolod Zaderatsky, a contemporary of Shostakovich whose persecution by the Soviet regime cast his works into obscurity. The Russian-born pianist Jascha Nemtsov will give the world premieres of three works, including the 24 Preludes and Fugues, which Zaderatsky wrote in the Gulag. Rarely performed works by Shostakovich include his incomplete Violin Sonata of 1945 and Six Poems by Marina Zwetajewa for Alto and Chamber Orchestra op. 143a, which Vladimir Jurowski will perform with Maria Gortsevskaya and the Staatskapelle Dresden. —Rebecca Schmid



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