Any Shostakovich Fans?

June 23, 2019, 6:10 AM · I've been watching videos of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, great Orchestra! But I particularly like their version of Shostakovich's Symphony #5 in D minor. Anyone else like this Composer?


Replies (31)

June 23, 2019, 6:11 AM · Yap.
June 23, 2019, 8:55 AM · The S5 is one of my favorites too. I like the biting sound of the marimba at the high points.
Edited: June 23, 2019, 10:27 AM · While still at school I "discovered" S5 in the Czech Philharmonic/Ancerl recording and was mesmerised. At university, coming up to 50 years ago, I played the slow opening of the first violin concerto to audition for the orchestra. The judges then asked if I could play something faster but I was ready for them and played the opening of the finale (also easy). I think they may have given me a little extra credit for initiative.
June 23, 2019, 10:55 AM · I recall the Ancerl version, as well as the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein. Ancerl, incidentally, survived Thersienstadt and Auschwitz, though in the latter he lost his wife and child. Horrific to think what so many composers and musicians of that generation went through.
June 23, 2019, 12:17 PM · Last night I watched and rewatched Schindlers List by the NL Orchestra featuring Simone Lamsma and Davida Scheffers, very emotional.
June 23, 2019, 3:51 PM · Richard - thanks for the info on Ancerl. I did not know about his experience; I did not think he was Jewish. Lots of composers and musicians of that generation did not even survive the war, nor in many cases did the music they had written, destroyed by the Nazis as effectively as if it had never been composed.

I am a Shosti fan, particularly the pieces written during WWII.

June 23, 2019, 6:47 PM · Since we are on a violin forum maybe one should mention DSCH's works for violin: The already mentioned concerto (a-minor) plus a second violin concerto in f sharp minor. A great masterpiece is the violin sonata which was written for the sixtieth birthday of Oistrach (the anecdote has it that the f sharp concerto was to be the 60th birthday gift, only Shostakovich erroneously arrived with it on the 59th birthday. Hence the sonata one year later).
Plus there are the quartets and the piano trio, all of them wonderful.
June 23, 2019, 7:38 PM ·

I felt some of the anguish in this music when I heard it live once, enough to cause my companion to ask me if I was ok.

Edited: June 24, 2019, 12:57 AM · Albrecht - don't forget the viola sonata which I think is by far the greatest in the repertoire.
June 24, 2019, 2:47 AM · I am a big fan. Performed the second piano trio 2 years ago and was the concert master in the Leningrad Symphony last fall. Also played the 8th string quartet and symphony 5 recently. I would love to play all his quartets, but convincing the other quartet members that it is a good idea is not easy....
@J Ray - that quartet just grabs your heart and squeezes it. You just don't want to applaud when it is over. The last time I heard it live there was one idiot in the audience who started applauding way too early - you know the kind of people who want to show everyone that they know that the piece is over now - but no-one else joined in and eventually he stopped.
June 24, 2019, 5:34 AM · Haha, "want to get away?"
June 24, 2019, 5:51 AM · Further re the viola sonata, Bashmet and Richter I find very disappointing. Its original artists Druzhinin and Muntyan are the ones for me (on youtube); Druzhinin makes a fabulous sound and his intensity in the last movement is incredible.
June 24, 2019, 10:18 AM · It's funny how the presenter mentioned the song was composed during The Purge. All of that stuff was erased from the Russian history books so kids these days won't even learn about it.
June 24, 2019, 3:07 PM · The 5th is one of the great symphonies! I also love his 1st, 7th, and 9th. The 7th and 8th string quartets are great additions to that genre as well.
June 24, 2019, 4:36 PM · I am sorry Oistrakh did not live long enough to record this piece.
June 24, 2019, 4:51 PM · @Tom Holzman What piece is that? He did record the sonata with Richter I believe.
June 24, 2019, 5:48 PM · The Shosti viola sonata.
June 24, 2019, 6:40 PM · An incredible composer! I wonder what more he might have created had he not been confined by the "Soviet thought police." The only Shosty I can recall playing was his 5th Symphony (violin 1) and I still remember the frustration of reading the manuscript with 6th & 7th position notes riding lower than 5th.

It was back in that time frame that I watched videos of Bernstein and Rostropovich conducting that symphony. I was totally blown away by what "Rosty" did with it compared to "Bernie" - it was like a master vs. a beginner - really. I guess with his own problems with the Russian government of the time, Rostropovich also deeply felt what Shostakovich loaded into that music. Having seen Rosty conducting live (but from behind him) I just couldn't see much there, but a personal friend who played some concerts with the Pittsburgh Symphony under him told me that playing under Rostropovich was really inspiring.

Shostakovich's composing range was very broad and deep - extending way beyond the classical as well. I have a slight memory of having played something of his like that in a chamber group.

June 24, 2019, 10:03 PM · His 3rd string quartet is one of my favorites as well. Reading it with two professional violinists and a semi-pro cellist is one of the musical highlights of my life.
June 25, 2019, 3:05 AM · I like his smaller works as well.

Waltz from three violin duets

June 25, 2019, 4:10 AM · I’ve played 5,6,9,10 of the symphonies. Much to like and even love if that is your thing. Sometimes I have a fuse that breaks, though, and I become less inclined to listen to them for a while. The 5th is very close to that now, for me. The performance I liked most was with Stephane Deneuve and the Boston Symphony. Mostly because it shed much of the stereotypical “Shosty-ness” and played it like beautiful music.
The quartets also have a lot to love— I have worked on the 8th and sightread a few others, with much pleasure.
June 25, 2019, 3:09 PM · His String Quartet #8 is incredible - at least if you like things really dark. (He was going through a bad time when he wrote it: his wife dying, Stalin looking over his shoulder all the time, and visiting the ruins of Dresden.)

Our orchestra played his ballet suite #1 a few years ago - lots of fun stuff there, with definite signs of influence by Glinka, some of whose material we're studying right now.

June 25, 2019, 5:26 PM · Steve, I apologize for forgetting the viola sonata. Mea culpa.
July 5, 2019, 2:31 PM · I wish I had the time to get out and see the BSO, they're covering a lot of Shostakovich!
Edited: July 5, 2019, 6:00 PM · I am big fan os Shostakovich. I first heard his fantastic piano quintet, then the quartets, 20 preludes and fugues for piano, viola sonata, etc. By the way I have one of my violas played in the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester right now.
July 5, 2019, 11:23 PM · Shostakovich 7 is on my bucket list of orchestra works. But I really love 5, which I played as a teenager and would love to do again.
Edited: July 6, 2019, 3:29 AM · Lydia - by "bucket" do you mean "rubbish bin" (Am. Eng. "trash can")? Several of Shostakovich's symphonies were written purely for propaganda purposes, namely #2, #3, #12 and sadly (although for a different purpose, celebrating as it does the fortitude of the people of Leningrad rather than bloody revolution) also #7. Of his three "war" symphonies give me #8 for depth, #9 for outrageous sarcasm
July 6, 2019, 6:22 AM · Anything for propaganda purposes were probably coerced by Stalin. BSO will be performing no 12 this November and they're doing the no 1 piano concerto shortly.
July 7, 2019, 8:45 AM · I saw Shostakovich 11 at the Brevard music center and it was one of the most powerful moving musical experiences I’ve ever had. I hadn’t heard it before and it’s made it’s way into my top 3 symphonic works.
July 9, 2019, 6:14 PM · I find the slow movement viola tune of Shostakovich 11 to be a real earworm.
July 11, 2019, 1:10 PM · There is something very special about seeing Shostakovich performed live. His mastery of orchestration and dramatic instincts give his music an almost theatrical aspect. Remember, he composed all his music in his head and then simply wrote it down - which gives him complete control over the architecture of a piece - which is why a symphony like #11 is so devastating and moving to see performed, imho...

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