The silent film concerts of the Prima Vista Quartet


In 1871, French soldiers go to the front, the Parisian bourgeoisie applauded with shouts of "To Berlin!" and continues to live a joyful life. In the department store called The New Babylon, it is sales time. The young saleswoman Louise is invited to the ball by his boss. But the celebration is cut short because the French army is defeated and the Prussians marched into Paris. The bourgeoisie who yesterday celebrated the soldiers, is now ready to capitulate. But the people of Paris did not want to surrender. It invests the Town Hall and enthusiastically organizes a "government" of the Paris Commune...

Shostakovich was only 23 years old when he composed the music for "The New Babylon". A complex score, very demanding for the orchestra and that disturbed audience habits. Shostakovich gave free rein to his temperament both melodramatic and poetic, but also his taste for the grotesque. He quotes dances (waltz, cancan, gallop ...), French revolutionary songs ("The Carmagnole", "Ça Ira") and "La Marseillaise" which he superimposes to the Galop Infernal from Orpheus in the Underworld of Offenbach to create an effect both ironic and caustic.

The Paris Commune as seen by the Soviet cinema

the film

DIRECTORS  G. Kosinzew & L. Trauberg

YEAR  1929


COMPOSER  Dmitri Shostakovitch

transcription  Baudime Jam (2010)

The filmmakers who gravitated around the FEKS, the famous film school in Leningrad, were among the first to give importance to the musical accompaniment on the screen. In 1928, they call on Dmitri Shostakovich to compose original music and directing their silent films.

In 2010, at the request of the Anères Festival, and in accordance with the rights holders and Editions Le Chant du Monde, Baudime Jam has made a transcription for string quartet and clarinet of the symphonic score by Shostakovich.

... INTERVIEW with Baudime Jam about his transcription of the original score by Shostakovitch (DSCH Journal).The_New_Babylon_files/DSCHinterviewWeb.pdf

photos : Le Balzac, A. Mercer

This is not the first experience of transcription for the Prima Vista Quartet. Since its creation in 1997, he performed many orchestral scores, transcribed for string quartet by Baudime Jam, among which Mozart’s Symphony No. 36 "Linz", Beethoven’s Coriolan overture and 3rd and 4th Symphonies, Mussorgsky’s "Pictures at an Exhibition", Schumann’s Symphony No. 3 "Rhenish", Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, Tchaikovsky’s "The Nutcracker", Chopin’s two piano concertos, etc. By bringing the orchestra of Shostakovich at the scale of a Clarinet Quintet, Baudime Jam succeeded in restoring the power and the soundworld of the original score, while offering the Prima Vista Quartet the occasion of taking on a new challenge.

This transcription has been authorized by Mrs Irina Shostakovitch and it is available through Chant du Monde (Paris).

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