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Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5. Analysis by Gerard Schwarz (part 3)

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- The third movement is a extremely poignant, beautiful movement. The brasses don't play at all. No horns, no trumpets, no trombones, no tuba, and no percussion. It begins in a very poignant way with the third violins playing the melody with what we would call, accompaniment, harmonic accompaniment cello bass, and viola. ("Symphony No. 5" by Shostakovich) The melody is very long. You could say that it is in various sections. The first is a very poignant moment, and then it becomes a little more aggressive. That's the second gesture in that long melody. ("Symphony No. 5" by Shostakovich) And then the third gesture is when the first violins come in. ("Symphony No. 5" by Shostakovich) Next, the flute enters and plays the melody from the 1st movement and is accompanied by harp. ("Symphony No. 5" by Shostakovich) The second flute joins in. Cellos join in. And then what he does is, remember, I played you the beginning of the whole movement. ("Symphony No. 5" by Shostakovich) What he does is he takes that. ("Symphony No. 5" by Shostakovich) And he makes that the whole essence of the whole next session. ("Symphony No. 5" by Shostakovich) And he repeats it, and he repeats it louder. And it becomes a very dramatic moment leading to the first big climax of the slow movement. ("Symphony No. 5" by Shostakovich) Next, we have the third theme. This theme is played by the solo oboe. What's interesting about Shostakovich also is that he has these huge gestures, big sound, big brass, but he also writes so much of the music that ends up sounding like chamber music. At this moment we have the first violins playing a very quiet tremolo where the solo oboe plays. ("Symphony No. 5" by Shostakovich) A very poignant melody. One of the most beautiful, important solos in the oboe repertoire. Then the clarinet joins in using that same gesture. ("Symphony No. 5" by Shostakovich) That I mentioned before. And then after a little chorale by the strings, the flute plays the same solo that the oboe played, and then clarinets come in playing that. ("Symphony No. 5" by Shostakovich) That same material that we've heard so many times with the bassoons from theme one. ("Symphony No. 5" by Shostakovich) Finally, we get a big unison. A big sounding together of all the violins, and this is the climax of this whole section. ("Symphony No. 5" by Shostakovich) And then we have that great. ("Symphony No. 5" by Shostakovich) That same motive that I told you would come back played by the xylophone, cellos, first violins, upper woodwinds. It's just incredible. It builds and builds, and then you hear this extremely loud tremolo. Tremolos up to now, we've always heard as being soft. Here, they're playing loud. The clarinets are playing away, and the melody of the flute, that beautiful melody becomes an aggressive melody played loudly by the cellos. The double basses play a single note to emphasize every downbeat. ("Symphony No. 5" by Shostakovich) Then it finally comes to getting softer when the second violins come back in with their... ("Symphony No. 5" by Shostakovich) That we heard earlier, and it is so gorgeous. ("Symphony No. 5" by Shostakovich) Next, we have the second melody. Now it's being played by the second violins, accompanied by the harp. ("Symphony No. 5" by Shostakovich) Finally, the third theme is brought back. You know the one. ("Symphony No. 5" by Shostakovich) But the orchestration now is very interesting. He uses the celesta and the harp, but the harp isn't playing regular notes. She's playing harmonics, and it's a completely different color. It actually sounds an octave higher by the way she plucks the string. And the combination of the harmonics, and the harp, and the celesta is quite remarkable, and that's how the movement ends. ("Symphony No. 5" by Shostakovich)