From Where I Sit: The Philadelphia Orchestra Flutist Jeffrey Khaner on Shostakovich's Fifth
On January 17, The Philadelphia Orchestra performs its second of four programs at Carnegie Hall this season. The orchestra's principal flutist, Jeffrey Khaner, discusses the final piece on the program, Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5.
Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony is one of my favorites to play. As the principal flutist of The Philadelphia Orchestra, it is a piece I see often and always welcome and enjoy. Speaking entirely selfishly, every movement has at least one terrific solo, and when I’m not playing myself, I can enjoy the playing of my magnificent colleagues!
The first solo in the first movement has a melancholy introspective quality. I am alone, ruminating, for a couple of phrases, and then the violins join me as one. The solo at the end of the movement (or rather, a duet with the horn) is masterful in its simplicity—a poetic portrayal of acceptance.
"... musically, I feel I must combine elements of naiveté, humor, and sarcasm all together."
The second movement has a fiendishly tricky solo that I play immediately after the solo violin. Once again, Shostakovich presents us with something seemingly simple, but technically it is extremely challenging; he asks me to articulate cleanly and precisely on the very worst notes of the flute for that particular exercise! And musically, I feel I must combine elements of naiveté, humor, and sarcasm all together.
The third movement first solo is heart-achingly beautiful. Accompanied by harp, I play four solo measures, and then I accompany the second flute for an additional four measures, but two octaves above! Later in the movement, the oboe and then the clarinet have magically poignant solos, and I follow them with my own version.
The solo in the last movement is soulful resignation. I start alone and am joined successively by the oboe, clarinet, and bassoon and we in turn hand off to the strings.
What a glorious symphony!
Photo by Pete Checchia.
Learn more about The Philadelphia Orchestra in our ongoing blog series, The American Orchestra.
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