Shostakovich Symphony No. 8 (2005)

Shostakovich

London Symphony Orchestra

Mstislav Rostropovich

 

The Eighth Symphony is a dark, epic work standing at the very centre of Shostakovich’s output. Composed in a mere ten weeks between July and September 1943, it was first performed in Moscow on 4 November under Evgeny Mravinsky. Expectations were high, for Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony, associated with the siege of Leningrad, had been adopted both in Russia and the West as a symbol of resistance to the Nazis. It was hoped that the Eighth would follow in its patriotic footsteps, but with the difference that the tide of war had now turned. Earlier that year the German Sixth army had been annihilated at Stalingrad, the siege of Leningrad had been lifted, and the Nazis were in retreat.
What should have been a symphony of heroism and victory turned out to be nothing of the sort. At a time when optimism and glorification of the Motherland under Stalin’s inspired leadership were the order of the day, anything more complex – let alone the questioning ambiguities of Shostakovich’s new symphony – was bound to be received with suspicion. One representative comment after the first performance was that ‘It sees only the dark side of life. Its composer must be a poor-spirited sort not to share the joy of his people.’ After the Leningrad premiere in 1944 the work virtually disappeared from the repertory, and at the notorious 1948 conference that condemned the finest composers in Russia it was singled out for its ‘unhealthy individualism’ and pessimism.

The Eighth Symphony is a dark, epic work standing at the very centre of Shostakovich’s output. Composed in a mere ten weeks between July and September 1943, it was first performed in Moscow on 4 November under Evgeny Mravinsky. Expectations were high, for Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony, associated with the siege of Leningrad, had been adopted both in Russia and the West as a symbol of resistance to the Nazis. It was hoped that the Eighth would follow in its patriotic footsteps, but with the difference that the tide of war had now turned. Earlier that year the German Sixth army had been annihilated at Stalingrad, the siege of Leningrad had been lifted, and the Nazis were in retreat
What should have been a symphony of heroism and victory turned out to be nothing of the sort. At a time when optimism and glorification of the Motherland under Stalin’s inspired leadership were the order of the day, anything more complex – let alone the questioning ambiguities of Shostakovich’s new symphony – was bound to be received with suspicion. One representative comment after the first performance was that ‘It sees only the dark side of life. Its composer must be a poor-spirited sort not to share the joy of his people.’ After the Leningrad premiere in 1944 the work virtually disappeared from the repertory, and at the notorious 1948 conference that condemned the finest composers in Russia it was singled out for its ‘unhealthy individualism’ and pessimism.

 

 

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London Symphony Orchestra

The LSO was formed in 1904 as London’s first self-governing orchestra and has been resident orchestra at the Barbican since 1982. Valery Gergiev became Principal Conductor in 2007 following in the footsteps of Hans Richter, Sir Edward Elgar, Sir Thomas Beecham, André Previn, Claudio Abbado and Michael Tilson Thomas, among others. Sir Colin Davis had previously held the position since 1995 and from 2007 became the LSO’s first President since Leonard Bernstein. The Orchestra gives numerous concerts around the world each year, plus more performances in London than any other orchestra. It is the world’s most recorded symphony orchestra and has appeared on some of the greatest classical recordings and film soundtracks. The LSO also runs LSO Discovery, its ground-breaking education programme that is dedicated to introducing the finest music to young and old alike and lets everyone learn more from the Orchestra’s players. For more information visit lso.co.uk

Mstislav Rostropovich

Mstislav Rostropovich was a Russian cellist, pianist, conductor, pedagogue and political figure whose international performances and public appearances symbolized the struggle of intellectuals against the rigid Soviet Communism. Rostropovich was born in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1927. At the age of four he started piano lessons with his mother and shortly afterwards began to study the cello with his father. He continued under his father's tuition at the Central Music School in Moscow and then went on to the Moscow Conservatoire, where in addition to his cello and piano studies he began to conduct. He made his public debut as a cellist in 1942 at the age of 15 and was immediately recognized as a potentially great artist. When the war ended his reputation soon spread outside the USSR, principally through his recordings, and when he began touring in the West it was soon apparent that in Rostropovich the world had a natural successor to the great Pablo Casals, who had reigned as the supreme cellist for more than half a century. He has given countless memorable performances and has inspired the world's leading composers to enlarge and enrich the standard cello repertoire with works specially composed for and dedicated to him. These include works by Britten, Bliss, Khachaturian, Lutoslawski, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Rostropovich was soloist in the premieres of Prokofiev's second Cello Concerto in 1952, Shostakovich's two Cello Concertos in 1959 and 1966, Britten's Cello Symphony in 1964 and Bliss's Cello Concerto in 1970. Many other works have been written for him and today his repertoire includes more than 50 concertos, ranging from the baroque, through the classical and romantic periods, to the avant-garde. As a cellist, Rostropovich is noted for his commanding technique and intense, visionary playing.

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Shostakovich Symphony No. 8 (2005)

Shostakovich

London Symphony Orchestra

Mastering Engineer: Neil Hutchinson - Classic Sound
Producer: James Malinson
Recording Engineer: Neil Hutchinson - Classic Sound
Recording location: Barbican Hall london
Recording Software: Merging
Recording Type & Bit Rate: 64FS

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LSO0527: Shostakovich Symphony No. 8
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Tracks.
1.
Symphony No 8 in C Minor - I. Adagio - Allegro non troppo
Shostakovich
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2.
Symphony No 8 in C Minor - II. Allegretto
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3.
Symphony No 8 in C Minor - III. Allegro non troppo
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4.
Symphony No 8 in C Minor - IV. Largo
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5.
Symphony No 8 in C Minor - V. Allegretto
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