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music/Australia

Stalin's Piano

Composed by Robert Davidson
Performed by Sonya Lifschitz

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Adelaide Premiere

  • About

    A choral setting of Julia Gillard’s ‘misogyny speech’ replete with her every cadence and rhetorical rhythm, went viral a few years ago. The former PM’s musical amanuensis was composer Robert Davidson whose obsession with what he calls “voice portraiture” reaches its zenith in this fabulous and virtuosic multimedia work.

    The undisputed hit of the 2017 Canberra International Music Festival, Davidson harnesses the voices and visual footage of 19 artists and politicians (Brecht, Goebbels, JFK, Percy Grainger, Judith Wright, David Malouf, Whitlam and, yes, DJ Trump among them), capturing the music of their often iconic speeches, and crystallising it in a score played live with astonishing brilliance by Sonya Lifschitz. The text is sometimes followed to the syllable, at other times looped and mashed up to create wild flights of what could be mistaken for Cuban jazz riffs.

    The title refers to courageous Russian pianist Maria Yudina, an outspoken champion of artistic freedom whose recording of a Mozart concerto was ironically on Stalin’s turntable when he died. Ukrainian born Lifschitz, for whom the music was conceived, approaches her formidable task with equal fearlessness.


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  • Credits

    Composer Robert Davidson Performer Sonya Lifschitz
    Producer Neil Simpson

    Image William Hall

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