Finding the right notes in Shostakovich concerto

February 25, 2020, 8:44 PM · My son is currently working on the second movement of the Shostakovich concerto (Scherzo) and we are having difficulty figuring out what the right notes are in a few locations. There is only one edition of this out (Sikorski) which was released in a new version in 2016. I also have a photocopy of his teacher's music from many years ago, which is the same edition but the 1957 original.

There are at least 3 places my son has found where there are discrepancies between the older version and the new version, but at least one of them seems to be a typo, so I am not entirely confident that the new version is more correct than the old version.

My usual methods of resolving things like this (studying the manuscript or full score, listening to recordings) haven't been helpful, as there isn't easy access to the scores, and the recordings vary on these notes (and occasionally some others!). His teacher said try to research it, and if you can't, go with what Oistrakh played.

Any ideas on how we can figure out which notes are intended?

For reference, the spots are:

m. 175 (2 before marking 36): F# or F natural
m. 226 (at marking 40): G natural versus G flat in both voices
m. 416 (4 before marking 55): top line reads Bb-Bb-D and should be Bb-C-D (likely typo)

Replies (10)

February 25, 2020, 9:31 PM · I have the Sikorski violin-with-piano-reduction edition. I think I might also own the International edition back from the 1980s because the Russian copyright stuff occurred, but I have no idea where my copy is.

There is a Boosey & Hawkes study score, which you might want to check.

February 26, 2020, 12:09 PM · According to the Boosey and Hawkes study score:

M. 175 is f natural
M. 226 is g natural both voices
M 416 is Bb-C-D

When my son performed the piece, he used the score to help settle the questions.

A few years back we started buying a study score for each concerto being learned. We have quite a collection now and it always helps create a deeper understanding of the piece. All the best with this amazing piece.

February 26, 2020, 3:49 PM · Thank you! We usually do purchase study scores -- I just had the misconception that there wasn't one for this piece due to copyright.
February 26, 2020, 3:49 PM · "A few years back we started buying a study score for each concerto being learned."

It's amazing how seldom students reference the score or piano reduction. In addition to note questions, it can tell you how free or strict you can be in a given passage.

February 26, 2020, 7:31 PM · I'm surprised to hear that, Scott. My son studies them religiously. When he has performed solo with orchestra he always learns every single orchestral part by memory so he know how everything fits. I thought that was pretty standard for advanced students. How can they even begin to perform if they don't understand how it all fits together?
February 27, 2020, 9:35 AM · Only the students who follow advice of the best teachers. Which is not everyone.
Edited: February 27, 2020, 9:52 AM · It's definitely not standard to learn "every single orchestral part" by memory. Many good conductors don't even do that; they still look at the score, though a few of them might actually have everything memorized. A deep familiarity with the score and how key parts fit together is essential, yes. But I doubt the average conductor can hum from beginning to end the entire second bassoon part from memory. Can your son do that and does he enjoy the process? If so, maybe he should study to be a conductor.

February 27, 2020, 10:48 AM · A person who can memorize every part in the score from beginning to end is called a savant. They do exist.
February 27, 2020, 3:32 PM · I would say that many players can mentally hear a recording in their head, filling in the missing part or telling them what they should anticipate in an orchestral texture. This doesn't mean knowing what everyone is doing exactly as single-line memorization so much as having an awareness of what's going on "vertically" (across the instruments) at any one given time.
February 27, 2020, 4:06 PM · Yes, what he does is more like what Lydia describes. He doesn't memorize each part separately but the whole texture. But he is also able to tell you things like every single missed entrance and who missed it, and he can typically play anybody's part (on the violin) from memory in a given section if it is the melody or harmony.

He's also a fun party trick -- you can play crazy 6 note chords on the piano with all sorts of added notes and he can tell you all the notes and a likely interpretation of them.

I've suggested to him that he should consider doing conducting. His theory teacher is a conductor so maybe in a few years he will try some lessons.

Now the thing that totally does him in is transposing instruments!

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