Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

In anticipation of performing Shostakovich's Symphony No. 13, 'Babi Yar' with Brighton Festival Chorus, and the Philharmonia Orchestra under Vladimir Ashkenazy in the Brighton Festival (Wednesday 23 May), I thought I would spend some time reacquainting myself with this composer. I first came across him at the age of about 14 or 15, when in my youth orchestra, the Stockport Youth Orchestra, we were presented with the challenge of the Fifth Symphony. Whilst it is probably the most popular and accessible of his symphonies, it was still daunting, and not like anything else I had played up to that point - thanks to conductor Xenophon Kelsey, MBE (yes, that is his name!) for his imagination and confidence to encourage young players in such repertoire. I progressed from there to listen to other symphonies, and to the equally popular piano concertos. The string quartets came later, but that's about as far as I've got really. I have a copy of Chandos' release of the Cello Concertos performed by Enrico Dindo with Gianandrea Noseda and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra on my review pile for my column in GScene - more to follow on that. 

So, I thought I'd work through my recordings of the symphonies - and being me, I'll have to do that in order! My recording of the first symphony is from 1994, with Mariss Jansons conducting the Berlin Philharmonic. Not a bad place to start....

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