The Stage – Shostakovich: Journey into Light

Radio – light programme review

The centenary celebrations of the births of two major artists, Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich and English poet John Betjeman, have afforded presenters Stephen Johnson and AN Wilson respectively the opportunity to go on very personal journeys through each of their pasts. Meanwhile, too, the personal music choices of the guests of Desert Island Discs continues to offer a lighter but often intimately revealing musical journey through the lives of their guests.

Read More…

Glasgow Herald – Shostakovich: Journey into Light

by Anne Simpson

Clinical depression is the fathomless black hole inside a person’s head. Three times in his life the journalist Stephen Johnson has been its victim, his entire life being trapped in a hopelessness which seemed beyond control. But in Journey into the Light (Radio 3, Sunday), he wrenchingly described how he has found escape through music. Not jaunty stuff but the huge, catastrophic dissonances of Shostakovich. Music so dark and convulsed in suffering it seemed to resonate with his own despair. Here was a remarkable programme which centred on Johnson’s pilgrimage from his Herefordshire garden to Moscow and St Petersburg, cities that shaped the composer’s work. This was a story that was soul-baring but not self-pitying in its transcendence out of ransacking melancholia. Yet, as Johnson’s Russian contributors affirmed, Dmitri Shostakovich’s music exploded from Stalinists horrors so brutal they were impossible for outsiders to grasp.

Read More…