Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.5 & Four Romances on Poems by Pushkin
Elder’s acclaimed Shostakovich interpretations continue with this live concert recording of one of the composer’s most popular symphonies, coupled with a work which reveals one of its most enigmatic secrets.
Live recording from Bridgewater Hall performance in January 2018.
Described as being “one his most important utterances” (Shostakovich expert Stephen Johnson in the formative booklet note which accompanies this release), Symphony No.5 was written as a response to the sinister unsigned article which appeared in Pravda, the state newspaper, in January 1936, denouncing the composer and implying the ultimate threat, during the time of Stalin’s ‘Great Terror’.
A new release on the Hallé label from Mark Elder and the Hallé orchestra underlines one theory on the enigmas that run through Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, a work written in 1937 after the composer was denounced in Pravda at the height of Stalin’s “Great Terror”. This “Soviet artist’s creative reply to criticism”, as it was subtitled, is pertinently coupled with the composer’s Four Romances on Poems by Pushkin, sung by the bass James Platt. In Weaving themes from the first of these romances into his symphony – a song that expresses faith in art surviving brutal suppression and desecration – Shostakovich was quite probably sending a defiant signal that he would not buckle in the face of threats from the state. Whatever the theories, the Hallé’s playing in this live recording is magnificent, with Elder alert to all the nuances of this chilling, triumphant, riddle of a score. Stephan Pritchard, The Observer