Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10
My first encounter with the work…
June 2001. I was preparing to join the National Youth Orchestra of Canada for the whole summer. We were told which works would be on the program but not the positions we’d hold in the orchestra. Encouraged by a former teacher, I hoped to play the piccolo in Shostakovich’s tenth symphony.
I didn’t know a thing about the composer and I hadn’t heard any of his works. And while I’d played the piccolo in an orchestra, this would be the first major symphony I’d performed.
To prepare myself, I listened to the symphony. At first, I didn’t like it much. I didn’t understand anything. The internship began and I learned I’d be playing the piccolo. It was the beginning of a love affair between the piccolo, Shostakovich and me.
Through the composer, I discovered all the facets of playing the piccolo. Whether it’s with sweetness, sensitivity, power or brilliance, Shostakovich knows how to write for the instrument. I came to love the Russian composer’s orchestral colours of the, with atmospheres so bald and flights so fiery.
My deep love for this artist and for this symphony in particular shows that you shouldn’t always trust your first impressions!
My favourite passage
Actually, I have two favourites. The end of the first movement, with its magnificent duo for piccolo, and all of the second movement, which I never get tired of listening to. It’s pure condensed energy!
My favourite recording
Hard to choose a favourite recording. I compare everything to my experience with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. And I rarely find the energy of the concerts I performed in and recorded. But there’s a recording of the Philadelphia Orchestra under Mariss Jansons that comes close.