Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti for Bass and Symphony Orchestra
January 31, 1975. Moscow. Great Hall of the Conservatoire. Conductor M. Shostakovich. Soloist Y. Nesterenko.
1982. D. Shostakovich, Collected Works, Vol. 31, Moscow.
The hand-written score is in the archive of the composer’s family.
Version for voice and orchestra. Completed Nov. 5, 1974
Dedication: “To Irina Antonovna Shostakovich”
Suite on Verses by Michelangelo Buonarroti
for Bass and Symphony Orchestra. Op. 145a
Judging from the year it was written (1974), as well as from Shostakovich’s own admissions, he conceived this Suite on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the birth of the great Italian sculptor, painter and poet.
The rough drafts of the composition kept in Dmitri Shostakovich’s Archive indicate the dates it was written: the version with piano (Op. 145) on 12-31 July 1974 and the version with symphony orchestra (Op. 145a) on 5 November 1974. The author’s dedication appears on the first page: ‘Irina Antonovna Shostakovich’. Some important facts are found in a letter Shostakovich wrote to Glikman almost a month later: the composer told his friend that he had written ‘11 sonnets on the verses of Michelangelo’, mentioning as the initial source a book about Michelangelo of 1964 that included translations of his poetry by Abram Efros. In the same letter Shostakovich also gave the numbering of the sonnets with a reference to the page they appeared in this book and the order in which they were included in the Suite.
The Suite was first performed by Evgeny Nesterenko and Evgeny Shenderovich on 23 December 1974 in the Small Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic. On 31 January 1975 the composition was heard in the rendition of the same performers in Moscow in the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. The orchestral version of the Suite was performed in the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory by Nesterenko and the All-Union Radio and Television Grand Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maxim Shostakovich after the composer’s death, on 12 October 1975.
Baritone John Shirley-Quirk was one of the first performers of Shostakovich’s Suite in the West, who performed this cycle as early as September 1976 with pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy in London.
The extensive discography of Shostakovich’s opus with the participation of world-renowned stars began with the recordings featuring Evgeny Nesterenko. In the cycle’s version with piano his partner is Evgeny Shenderovich, while in the orchestral version he is accompanied by the All-Union Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maxim Shostakovich. Among the other recordings worth noting are the performances of Hermann-Christian Polster and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (conductor Thomas Sanderling), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Aribert Reimann (piano), the same performer and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy), Sergei Leiferkus and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra (conductor Neeme Järvi), Anatoli Kotscherga and the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra (conductor Mikhail Yurovsky), and Ildar Abdrazakov and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra (conductor Gianandrea Noseda).
The Music Foundation (Muzfond) of the Soviet Union put out the first collotype publications of the Suite on Verses by Michelangelo Buonarroti: in 1974 for bass and piano, Op. 145, and in 1975, the orchestral version, Op. 145a. In 1975, Op. 145 was published by Muzyka Publishers. Later its piano and orchestral versions were included in Vols. 31 and 33 of the composer’s Collected Works (Muzyka Publishers, Moscow, 1982 and 1984).
- Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra Soloist: Fischer-Discau D. Conductor: Ashkenazi V.D. 1991 // DECCA 433 319-2 D H, 1993
- Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra Soloist: Kopchak S. Conductor: Vainar F. 1980 // PRAGA PRODUCTION PR 250009,
- Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra Soloist: Polster G. Conductor: Zanderling T. 1978 // BERLIN CLASSICS 009 1932 BC, 1996
- Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. Singer: Leiferkus S. Conductor: Järvi N. 1994 // Deutsche Grammophon, 1995
- Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra. Soloist: Kocherga A. Conductor: M. Yurovsky 1996 // CAPRICCIO 10 777, 1998