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Alexander Shchetynsky

Symphonic Portraits
for Orchestra

Symphonic Portraits is a set of orchestral pieces, each of them shaping a key person in different national cultures and the life circumstances this person faced with.

1. In Haze (...Claude Debussy listening for the wind). Debussy once paradoxically declared that seeing a sunrise is more advisable for a composer than listening to the Pastoral-Sinfonie of Beethoven...

2. Polka (...Bedřich Smetana remembering his friends). The piece contains several quasiquotations from Smetana's music and plays with his melodic and harmonic idioms.

3. Castanets (...Pablo Picasso painting musical instruments). Deep intrinsic musicality of all works of Picasso is obvious, in particular, in his treatment of colour, in plasticity of drawing, in his perception of space proportions. This piece is a musical response to visual images and fantasies of the great Spaniard.

4. Valse macabre (...Arnold Schönberg leaving his country). I substitute so significant for European culture dance macabre – dance of death (sovereigns dancing with skeletons) for waltz that refers to Vienna – the native city of Schönberg. The inventor of the 12 tone techniques had to leave Vienna for more progressive Berlin twice in his life, but in 1933 he was forced again to leave his second homeland Germany and then Europe while escaping from Nazi regime.

5. Κι εστίν αλήθεια; (...Hryhoriy Skovoroda meditating). Pilate's famous question, Κι εστίν αλήθεια; – What is truth? became a life motto for the Ukrainian 18th century poet and philosopher Hryhoriy Skovoroda. The piece is built as free variations on two ancient tunes attributed to Skovoroda.

Alexander Shchetynsky

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