Dmitri Shostakovich wrote his Fifth Symphony at a crucial point in his career. His opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk had achieved a tremendous success following its premiere in 1934, until it suddenly came under attack from Stalin's cultural police. This was a dangerous situation for the composer, and it seems somehow poetic that he was to redeem himself with music instead of words. The Fifth Symphony, first performed in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) on November 21, 1937, was seen as an act of contrition by the Soviet authorities. But while the strong character of the music itself seems to suggest a narrative of some sort, Shostakovich provided no program for this work. Some have claimed -- quite plausibly -- that he intended the jubilantly militaristic finale to be ironic. But, as with all great abstract works, it is left to the listener to decide what the music is saying. This recording of the Fifth Symphony by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic was made immediately following a historic concert tour of the Soviet Union in 1959. Bernstein made a specialty of this work, and the atmospheric intensity of his interpretation is yet to be matched. No other conductor has given the second movement scherzo more bite or made the third movement largo more desolate. This reissue also includes Bernstein's superb performance of the Ninth Symphony, a cheeky, sometimes caustic work that seems to be Shostakovich's answer to Prokofiev's "Classical" Symphony. Almost half a century later, there's still no better introduction to Shostakovich's symphonic output than this.
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Shostakovich: Symphony No5, Op47; Symphony No9, Op70 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.