b'Program Notescontinuedwas a great admirer of Bachs, even composing a volume of 24 Preludes and Fugues inspired by Bachs Well-Tempered Clavier. In Opus 110, Shostakovich employs frequent contrapuntal textures and fugal devices typical of Bach and maintains a remarkably effective thematic/motivic unity throughout the work. The five movements of the piece are played without pause, further enhancing their interconnectedness. Composed in Dresden in 1960, Shostakovich dedicated his eighth string quartet in memory of the victims of fascism and war, though it is thought that he also intended the work as a kind of epitaph for himself. He had come to Dresden to compose music for a film about the fire-bombing of the city during WWII, but from July 12-14th he dedicated himself entirely to writing the quartet Op. 110 on which the Chamber Symphony Op. 110a is based. The piece includes references to several of Shostakovichs earlier works, including the Jewish Theme from his second piano trio, themes from his first and fifth symphonies, and the recently composed cello concerto, Op. 107. An especially significant self-referential feature of the work is Shostakovichs use of the DSCH motive, previously used in his tenth symphony, which spells his initials using the German spelling Dmitri SCHostakovich and employs the German note names D, Es (E-flat), C, H (B natural). This unsettling motive starts off the first movement and recurs in different tempos, registers, and characters throughout the piece, sometimes expressing the loneliness and desolation of the opening and at other times spinning in a furiously driving ostinato pattern. After the aggressively frenzied second movement Allegro, the third movement Allegretto is a grotesque dance. The fourth movement Largo opens with the ominously menacing triple knock that seems to herald imminent arrest and punishment and includes references to both the Dies Irae and the revolutionary song Tormented by Grievous Bondage.Shortly prior to composing Opus 110, Shostakovich had agreed, under pressure, to join the communist party. This was a bitter moment for the composer, who had suffered greatly and lost many friends under Stalins communist party rule. Throughout his career Shostakovich was at the mercy of the whims of those in power, alternately honored as the great Soviet composer and subjected to extremely harsh criticism, with his work censored. Perhaps the most painful example of this censorship was the condemnation heaped on him and his operatic masterpiece Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk in 1936, resulting in its removal from the stage until 1962. A theme from Lady Macbeth appears in the eighth quartet, too, in the princetonsymphony.org/ 15'