Sofia Gubaidulina • Offertorio
Dmitri Schostakowitsch • Symphony No. 13
SOFIA GUBAIDULINA Offertorio for violin and orchestra
DMITRY SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 13 B-flat minor, Op. 113 – Babij Jar
Intermission approx. 11:40 a.m.
End of concert approx. 1:10 p.m.
Print programme (PDF)
Shostakovich’s grandiose Symphony No. 13 for Male Chorus, Bass and Orchestra ignited the conflict between the composer and the Soviet regime: it was the first movement, entitled Babi Yar (as is the entire Symphony), which commemorates 34,000 Jews murdered near Kiev in 1941, but also decries the anti-Semitism of all times, which gave offense. However, the following movements – some of them witty, some sublime, bearing the titles Humour, In the Store, Fears and Career – also posed uncomfortable questions to the all-powerful Soviet system.
In Sofia Gubaidulina’s case, her frequent use of religious content was a thorn in the side of the authorities, making the performance of her works in the Soviet Union extremely difficult. In her Violin Concerto Offertorium, the Tartar composer takes the well-known “royal theme” by Johann Sebastian Bach / Frederic the Great as a basis for a set of variations, finally making it resemble an Orthodox chorale. Thus, in compositional terms, she understands the concrete changes made to our theme as a “gift of transformation, or the gift of turning things into their opposite”; in philosophical terms, this is her exploration of the higher transformation symbolized in the Christian religion by the Eucharist.