It was Shostakovich’s First Symphony that propelled the 19-year old Russian composer to international fame. The symphony’s emotional turmoil, and its innovative orchestration identified Shostakovich as a daring and major talent.
From a contrasting perspective, the Third Symphony, ‘The First of May’, was intended to become part of a cycle relating to key dates on the Russian revolutionary calendar. Who know? Perhaps that was the composer’s way of dealing with the cultural aspects of the Stalin era…
This CD gives us both of these symphonies, and it allows us to study these works further, particularly the 3rd, which is rarely performed.
- Symphony No. 1 in F minor, Op. 10
- Symphony No. 3, Op. 20, “Pervomayskaya”
Performed by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Vasily Petrenko
Vasily Petrenko seems to have brought just the right style and musical rhythms to the players of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO). Also, Petrenko has inspired the players to play just beautifully in those sad, lyrical Shostakovich moments.
By the end of the first symphony, I was amazed that a nineteen-year-old Shostakovich could have grasped and depicted the sad-tragic aspects of his times. Many of his bold, lyrical melodies are vigorous, yet gesturing to dark aspects at the same time.
As I said, the third symphony is rarely performed. I still need to hear more of this music to fully comprehend it. I went through a long phase of study with many of the Mahler symphonies until I appreciated them, and I suspect that the same is true with Shostakovich.
Here is a video of Shostakovich’s Symphony No.1, 3rd Movement, with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Valery Gergiev:
And here is the rarely performed Shostakovich’s Symphony 3 “The First of May” conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich:
Tags: Shostakovich, Symphonies 1 and 3, Vasily Petrenko, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra