Works Instrumentations of Works by Other Composers

Boris Tishchenko Cello Concerto No 1. New Orchestration by Dmitri Shostakovich

Opus 134 Opus 135

Opus SO
1969 year

Shostakovich’s Orchestration of Cello Concertos by Schumann and Tishchenko


Great Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic. The Leningrad State Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, soloist Boris Pergamenschikov, conductor Eduard Serov

first publication:

New Collected Works, Vol. 147, DSCH Publishers, Moscow 2022


Dmitri Shostakovich’s Archive, rec. gr. 1, inv. 1, f. 340

  Both of Boris Tishchenko’s cello concertos, one of Shostakovich’s most famous pupils, were composed in the 1960s (in 1963 and 1969, respectively). Like Shostakovich’s cello concertos, they were inspired by and dedicated to Rostropovich.
   The first performances of Tishchenko’s Cello Concerto No. 1 took place on 5 and 6 February 1966 in the Great Hall of the Philharmonic Society (Leningrad). Mstislav Rostropovich performed the solo part and Igor Blazhkov conducted the Wind and Percussion Ensemble of the Symphony Orchestra of the Leningrad State Philharmonic Society. An organ was used instead of a harmonium, and this part was played by Anastasia Braudo (Tishchenko’s wife). The premiere on 6 February 1966 was recorded and later released on vinyl.
   Despite the success of the first performances of the concerto, mainly due to the participation of the outstanding cellists and conductors, Shostakovich’s attitude towards it remained contradictory. On the one hand, the composer’s immense interest is shown by the statement “I know Tishchenko’s First Cello Concerto by heart”. On the other, however, Shostakovich’s letters to Tishchenko shed light on his criticism of the orchestration of the concerto. Shostakovich’s doubts had to do with the peculiarities of the concerto’s orchestration. In it, the solo cello is “challenged” by an ensemble of “alien” timbres of woodwinds, brass and percussion, thus coming into “confrontation” with them. Although throughout the concerto the soloist’s part generally stands out clearly against the background of the other parts due to the contrasts in timbres, registers, texture, bowings, dynamics, and the staccato rhythm of the orchestra, during the climaxes the orchestra sometimes aggressively overrides it. This was probably Shostakovich’s main concern.
   Shostakovich’s enthusiasm over his pupil’s concerto, as well as his concern about its fate prompted his desire to re-orchestrate it. This work was completed no later than 15 May 1969. On that day he sent Boris Tishchenko the score as a gift for his 30th birthday.
   Tishchenko received Shostakovich’s manuscript with contradictory feelings—one can imagine the young composer’s reaction to such radical changes to his work, which had not only been performed and enjoyed success, but had also been published and recorded. Almost thirty years later, Tishchenko recalled the experience as follows: “I can hardly describe my joy upon receiving this priceless gift ... and, at the same time, it was another lesson in orchestral mastery. I studied and examined Dmitri Dmitriyevich’s manuscript ‘under a microscope’, as they say, rewrote it thoroughly, and naturally I had some questions, particularly about the balance. I presented all my deductions in two colours—red and black—and took them to Dmitri Dmitriyevich. He turned my piece of paper over in his hands with some displeasure and handed it back to me without further ado, saying, ‘Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth’.”
   The premiere of Cello Concerto No. 1, orchestrated by Shostakovich, was held on 6 June 1971 in the Great Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic. Boris Pergamenschikov was the soloist and the Leningrad State Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Eduard Serov. It is worth noting that further performances of this work in the same hall (1978 and 2003) were carried out using Shostakovich’s score.