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Gergiev/Mariinsky: Shostakovich: Symphonies 2 and 11

Gergiev delivers a thrilling account of two symphonies by the Soviet-era composer Dmitir Shostakovich.

Shostakovich: Symphonies 2 and 11

Valery Gergiev (cond), Mariinsky Orchestra & Chorus

(Mariinsky Live)

The second of Gergiev's Shostakovich symphony recordings with the Mariinsky Orchestra, this presents two works that are historically fascinating if not always musically satisfying. The second symphony, written when he was just 20, was a paean to the Bolshevik regime on the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution of 1917, and bears the hallmarks of an internal struggle that would characterise his work and life in Soviet Russia. With all the arrogance of a precocious musical talent, already a success with the authorities, he created a deliberately shocking experimental one-movement work (part of what he himself described as "erroneous striving after originality") that weakly capitulated at the end with an accessible, rousing choral section designed to please the proletariat. The contrast with the mighty Symphony No 11, subtitled The Year 1905, couldn't be greater. By 1957, when it was completed, Shostakovich had been alternately persecuted and celebrated in the USSR, and although this work was wildly popular, it was also derided for its clear, filmic narrative. That seems unfair, and certainly in Gergiev's hands it is a thrilling work, by turns dirge-like, martial and frantic. A great performance and an interesting pairing.


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