You might be bored of classical music (gasp!), but this piece is perfect for spooky Halloween adventures. You know, the kind where everyone dies at the end.
The fourth and final movement of this piece, the “allegro con moto,” exemplifies Dmitri Shostakovich’s unique stye of composition. He was heavily influenced by Igor Stravinsky; you know, that guy who allegedly started a riot with his piece, Rite of Spring? (There wasn’t actually a riot, by the way — Stravinsky didn’t escape out a bathroom window, and nobody chased him with torches and pitchforks. At least, not on that particular evening.)
This cello concerto is probably the most popular 20th century concerto, and it’s also one of the most difficult to perform. Shostkovich composed it in 1959 amid a shifting political landscape for his friend and peer, Msistlav Rostropovich, who memorized the entire work in 4 days. Well, we all know who didn’t have to study for exams, don’t we? It seems as though Rostropovich had a photographic memory, or he had no life. Ah, the days before Netflix ruined our productivity.
Take a listen on Spotify.
Shostakovich suffered from a waxing and waning relationship with the Russian government, gaining favor and then losing it, a cycle which continued throughout most of his musical life. His compositions showcase crunchy and sometimes unpleasant harmonies, chromatic and disquieting melodies, and adventurous rhythms. His music is “love-it-or-hate-it,” and though he remains firmly in music history textbooks, one generally has to be in the mood for depressing and sometimes bleak music to enjoy it.
Lucky for us, October is the perfect month to appreciate some demented, casually terrifying cello music. Play “allegro con moto” on some external speakers, and I can guarantee that most of your trick-or-treaters will run away in fear, leaving all of those delicious mini-Snickers all to yourself.
Our friend Dmitri might be judging you for plowing through 4 family-size bags of fun-sized candy bars, but I am chomping with you in solidarity. On November 1st, because that’s when all the candy goes on sale.