The Cleveland Orchestra Winters in Miami
by greg stepanich
Perhaps chief among the three works is the final one, the Sixth Symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich, a piece only now coming into its own as a repertory jewel, having been overshadowed for decades by the composer’s betterknown works. “Shostakovich symphonies are always huge emotional voyages,” says Coppock, noting that the orchestra’s music director, the Austrian conductor Franz Welser-Möst, “believes fervently in this piece.” The Sixth premiered in Leningrad in 1939 to very good reviews, but over time it came in for harsher criticism, particularly for its unusual three-movement form. It begins with a dark, anguished slow movement succeeded by a short, lighthearted scherzo and a joyous, bustling finale that Shostakovich himself thought was one of his most successful closing achievements. The rubric Fire and Ice “does capture something about the contrast between the desolation of the first movement and the over-the-top, bacchanalian exuberance of the end,” Coppock says.
According to Michael Mishra, author of A Shostakovich Companion and a professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, the Sixth was considered by some observers to be a four-movement symphony that was missing something. “But I think the stock of the Sixth Symphony has actually risen, and people are now prepared to look at it and see it for the wonderful piece it is,” Mishra says.
Though the Brahms-Shepherd-Shostakovich order of the program is unusual, Coppock’s intent is to shed light on the “unknown masterpiece” that is the Sixth Symphony. “People will sit through this concert feeling much more comfortable about the first half than they are about the second, with a new piece and a Shostakovich symphony they don’t know,” he says. “But by the time they get to the end of the concert, they will have their heads turned around.”
The Cleveland Orchestra will perform January 27–28 at 8 PM in the Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. For tickets, call 305-949-6722
photograph by Roger mastroianni (Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts); oded antman (bronfman); roger mastroianni (welser-möst)