Speed Campaign Arpeggio: Shostakovich in Chengdu

It’s hardly a perfect performance on my part (the triplets could be twitchier, the octaves and tessitura more clean) but, in the spirit of a Soviet speed campaign, we got it done in exactly 40 hours of rehearsals over a period of eight days. Please enjoy the scherzo from the Cello Sonata in d minor by Dmitri Shostakovich, written in a month of white-hot creation on the Crimean coast in 1934 along with his banned Fourth Symphony.

Andreas Boelcke, piano and Adam Cathcart, cello - CLICK THE PICTURE to see the performance

Our performance took place at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music (Xie Xinghai Recital Hall) on October 25, 2010, which just happened to be the official 60th anniversary of the Korean War. When it comes to the scherzo, Shostakovich is champ, but his compatriot Sergei Prokoviev (whose sonata was also performed on this program) gives him a run for the money. Andreas Boelcke, the pianist who made this all happen, hails from Berlin and does a bang-up job. We also played some Robert Schumann, whose concerto I have on the plate for January 15 in Seattle. I think I’ll keep practicing the Shostakovich, because it isn’t note perfect yet, even God-cellist Ken Olsen can knuckle under to the Soviet Realist’s demands, and the North Koreans (as well as the Chinese) have high standards for this kind of thing.


  1. Yes, well good on ya and all that, but i came here looking for informed Chinese media analysis of the Yeonpyeongdo shelling, and all I got was you in a floral shirt!

    Which, irrespective of your presumed cello-ing chops, is not acceptable for any number of reasons…

  2. I was planning on commenting on the shirt until I watched the video. I think technical term is “holy smokes!”
    Not that anyone should discourage diligence, but I don’t think the style of the piece calls for “note perfect” anyway. and anyway, looking forward to the Seattle gig, and having you back in town.

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