The flexible and adventurous chamber troupe Fulcrum Point does its best to keep up with the times--its slogan is "Where classical music meets popular culture." And in fact the timing of the group's current project--a three-concert survey of music written in response to the oppression of post-Mao China, Stalin's Soviet Union, and Nazi Germany--couldn't be more appropriate. Shostakovich's String Quartet no. 8 is a fitting centerpiece for this Tuesday's Russian concert, as perhaps no 20th-century composer was as aware of the challenges of coping with the shifting ideological winds of a totalitarian regime. He developed during the Stalin era the trick of couching self-expressive passages and subversive digs at the state within an officially acceptable style of composition; this ferocious, despairing quartet, written in 1960, registers as an act of defiance in the face of fascism. Fulcrum Point will play it in a brass arrangement, giving leader Stephen Burns a chance to show off his trumpet skills. Galina Ustvolskaya, whose Symphony no. 4 will be given a rare performance on the same program, studied with Shostakovich in the late 40s. Written in the mid-80s, the piece is deceptively named: it's only ten minutes long and consists of just one movement for four performers. Sofia Gubaidulina is of a later generation, but she also grew up under Soviet scrutiny. Fulcrum Point will perform two characteristic works--"Song Without Words" and "Two Ballads," which incorporate instruments and melodies from the Caucasus and east Asia. Lera Auerbach is a relative unknown, a pianist-composer who's not yet 30. Her "Songs of Rebirth," "We Cannot Remember Them," and "October Song" will be given their local debuts here; the vocalist is the ubiquitous mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley. Preceding the concert at 5 PM is a guided tour of the Art Institute's modern Russian collection. Tuesday, March 18, 7:30 PM, ballroom, School of the Art Institute, 112 S. Michigan; 773-722-5463.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Dan Rest.