Friday, 18 October 2013

Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich - again

Well, I am back after a long excursion to the Paris area, Corsica, Vienna, then back to Paris. Awaiting me when I arrived home was yet another recording of a Shostakovich symphony -- the eighth, with Valery Gergiev conducting the Mariinsky Orchestra.

I've probably written enough about my new-found love for Shostakovich. Also about my conviction that Russian orchestras play Russian music as if they really understand the language. So we can take it for granted that this evening's performance pleased me greatly. Some critics may winge a little; Gergiev is no polite little conductor with his head buried in the score and his metronome ticking away, but this performance of Shostakovich's eighth symphony really grabs me. There are many pointless exposulations concerning “best” and “greatest”; I recall some piffling little journalist once attempting to compile a list of the seven (why seven?) greatest composers of the twentieth century. A bit like sterile arguments concerning the “greatest” French composer (or Swiss composer). My personal opinion is that if one has to nominate just one “greatest” composer of the twentieth century, it has to be Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich; amongst his 15 symphonies, 15 string quartets and 24 preludes and fugues, there is some great music that speaks from the heart, to the heart. Time will confirm all -- though I am unlikely to be around in five decades time, or whatever. This evening I really enjoyed Shostakovich's eighth symphony. Tomorrow the postgirl is scheduled to bring a new recording (Petrenko) of Shostakovich's fourth symphony, a work I have never heard before in my entire life. To be continued ...

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