Our friend Dianne Winsor, principal flute at Orquesta Sinfonica de Castilla y Leon, has just shared a piece of Shostakovich lore we had never heard before. While rehearsing Debussy this week, conductor Vasily Petrenko told her that the flute sound Shsotakovich wrote for was that of the wife of Yevgeny Mravinsky, the Leningrad Philharmonic conductor who premiered most of his symphonies.
Alexandra Vavilina-Mravinsky was principal flute of Leningrad Phil from 1962-89. She is now 85 and still a presence around St Pete. She will preside next month at a Mravinsky festival in Narva, Estonia.
Listen to her in the Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and you’ll get a pretty good idea of the expressive timbre that Shostakovich sought.