Dmitri Shostakovich Part III
I've mainly focused on the Shostakovich string quartets to celebrate his 100th birthday, but for today we'll take a little detour into one of his best symphonies, number eight, named the "Stalingrad" symphony by Soviet leaders. Written in 1943, its tragic, disturbing nature led top Soviets to ban it and for fellow Russian composer Prokoviev to speak out against it.
The first movement is of Mahleresque proportions, almost half an hour long. My personal favorite movement of this symphony is the third, in which the "war machine" can be heard in a heavy, driving, staccato line that is passed among the instruments, growing more and more powerful, until the timpani receives it in one of the most intense moments in music. Following that is a quiet, bleak passacaglia that conjures for me the image of dead bodies on the battlefield after the fight.
Solo winds feature prominantly throughout the piece, especially at the end of the last movement, where instead of ending triumphantly, the symphony fades away in a quiet C major.
Shostakovich Symphony No. 8- Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bernard Haitink