Shostakovich Symphonies, Cycles & Otherwise

Started by karlhenning, April 25, 2007, 12:02:09 PM

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relm1

Quote from: Leo K. on October 29, 2020, 06:15:14 AM
These are good thoughts to contemplate and helps me immensely.

I've recently listened to his String Quartet No.3, Cello Concerto No.1 and his Piano Concerto No.1 and these are all so different I was very surprised and couldn't stop thinking about it!

I like the satire, irony and witticism in so many moments and his style is making me reassess Mahler (one of my all time favorite music) in a new light. The Rondo in Mahler's 9 for example, which I never really liked, is now likeable after hearing Shostakovich.

Seeing that a lot of his symphonies are Mahlerian (in form and structure) and Brucknerian (adagio interiority) in scope (to some extent), this helps me contextually grasp Shostakovich better too.

Also keep in mind that like Mahler, Shostakovich is multi faceted and layered.  No. 5 is popular because on its surface it is an exciting and bold work but at a deeper level, there is alot a struggle and determination.  Much of his work is like this.  No. 10 uses his initials as a major subtext around the artists struggle and persistence but most people will just hear it as a repeating tune.  It's sort of like a fine meal.  You might like beef but at its best, the meal would be a journey through balanced flavors and textures.  I think if you like Mahler, Shostakovich is a natural fit.

k a rl h e nn i ng

Quote from: Leo K. on October 29, 2020, 06:15:14 AM
These are good thoughts to contemplate and helps me immensely.

I've recently listened to his String Quartet No.3, Cello Concerto No.1 and his Piano Concerto No.1 and these are all so different I was very surprised and couldn't stop thinking about it!

I like the satire, irony and witticism in so many moments and his style is making me reassess Mahler (one of my all time favorite music) in a new light. The Rondo in Mahler's 9 for example, which I never really liked, is now likeable after hearing Shostakovich.

Seeing that a lot of his symphonies are Mahlerian (in form and structure) and Brucknerian (adagio interiority) in scope (to some extent), this helps me contextually grasp Shostakovich better too.





Excellent.

While I do not contest the thesis that the string quartets qua cycle are stronger than the symphonies, the first 10 Shostakovich pieces that got right in amongst me were all symphonies;  I find sufficient musical excellence in there that the "unevenness" of the symphonies does not faze me.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Jo498

I personally also overall prefer Shostakovich's chamber music to his concertos and (at least the violin/cello) concertos to the symphonies. But I think one also has to keep in mind that most of the symphonies are much earlier pieces and generally have different goals/agendas and also very different from each other, so hardly comparable.
Tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos, dans une chambre.
- Blaise Pascal

amw

#1543
I've increasingly come around to the view that Shostakovich's greatest achievement is his vocal music—for that reason the 14th is my favourite of his symphonies but some of the other orchestral song cycles (& songs with piano/chamber accompaniment) are equally good.

In this respect I guess he's also comparable to Mahler, of whom my favourite symphonic work is probably Das Lied von der Erde, and whose songs in general are consistently superlative whereas his symphonies are sometimes a bit uneven from movement to movement etc.

But I have generally come to like the symphonies a good deal despite their unevenness or whatever, even "weaker" entries like numbers 3 and 12. I think only 5, 7 and 10 still haven't done much for me at this point, whereas I do enjoy all of the others to varying extents.

vandermolen

#1544
Quote from: amw on October 29, 2020, 02:33:31 PM
I've increasingly come around to the view that Shostakovich's greatest achievement is his vocal music—for that reason the 14th is my favourite of his symphonies but some of the other orchestral song cycles (& songs with piano/chamber accompaniment) are equally good.

In this respect I guess he's also comparable to Mahler, of whom my favourite symphonic work is probably Das Lied von der Erde, and whose songs in general are consistently superlative whereas his symphonies are sometimes a bit uneven from movement to movement etc.

But I have generally come to like the symphonies a good deal despite their unevenness or whatever, even "weaker" entries like numbers 3 and 12. I think only 5, 7 and 10 still haven't done much for me at this point, whereas I do enjoy all of the others to varying extents.
It's No.13 'Babi Yar' which I hardly ever played and which I now regard as one of the greatest, especially since hearing Haitink's recording.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Leo K.

Quote from: amw on October 29, 2020, 02:33:31 PM
I've increasingly come around to the view that Shostakovich's greatest achievement is his vocal music—for that reason the 14th is my favourite of his symphonies but some of the other orchestral song cycles (& songs with piano/chamber accompaniment) are equally good.

In this respect I guess he's also comparable to Mahler, of whom my favourite symphonic work is probably Das Lied von der Erde, and whose songs in general are consistently superlative whereas his symphonies are sometimes a bit uneven from movement to movement etc.

But I have generally come to like the symphonies a good deal despite their unevenness or whatever, even "weaker" entries like numbers 3 and 12. I think only 5, 7 and 10 still haven't done much for me at this point, whereas I do enjoy all of the others to varying extents.

Interesting, I feel the same way about Mahler - over many years I've become a huge fan of the 8th Symphony and Das Lied von der Erde, so it should be interesting to hear Shostakovich's No.13 and 14! Can't wait!

Leo K.

Quote from: relm1 on October 29, 2020, 06:53:34 AM
Also keep in mind that like Mahler, Shostakovich is multi faceted and layered.  No. 5 is popular because on its surface it is an exciting and bold work but at a deeper level, there is alot a struggle and determination.  Much of his work is like this.  No. 10 uses his initials as a major subtext around the artists struggle and persistence but most people will just hear it as a repeating tune.  It's sort of like a fine meal.  You might like beef but at its best, the meal would be a journey through balanced flavors and textures.  I think if you like Mahler, Shostakovich is a natural fit.

Thank you for those thoughts, further stuff that makes me appreciate Shostakovich - listening to the 10th Symphony now (Michael Sanderling) and you're right, on the 3rd listen you feel those other layers resonate and hum. The clarinet and horns are prominent and really deliver a unique tone to the work.

k a rl h e nn i ng

Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

relm1

Quote from: Leo K. on October 30, 2020, 06:27:04 AM
Listening to the 10th Symphony now (Michael Sanderling) and you're right, on the 3rd listen you feel those other layers resonate and hum.

Hmm, not familiar with that cycle.  Anyone have thoughts on the successfulness of his interpretations?

Christo

Quote from: k a rl h e nn i ng on October 30, 2020, 10:30:56 AM
The Tenth is a huge fave of mine.
Heard it live in the Concertgebouw a couple of times, twice again in recent years - and live it works best IMHO.
... music is not only an 'entertainment', nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

k a rl h e nn i ng

Quote from: Christo on October 31, 2020, 10:51:37 AM
Heard it live in the Concertgebouw a couple of times, twice again in recent years - and live it works best IMHO.

That's how I first heard it, Rattle guest-conducting Cleveland.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

relm1

Quote from: Christo on October 31, 2020, 10:51:37 AM
- and live it works best IMHO.

Umm, is there any work where that doesn't apply? 

Leo K.

Quote from: vandermolen on October 30, 2020, 03:21:48 AM
It's No.13 'Babi Yar' which I hardly ever played and which I now regard as one of the greatest, especially since hearing Haitink's recording.


Thank you I am going to seek this out!

vandermolen

Quote from: Leo K. on November 02, 2020, 06:33:09 AM
Thank you I am going to seek this out!
Excellent! Let us know what you think of it.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

j winter

Greetings,

I've been digging through the old thread with interest, having been bitten by the Shostakovich bug the past few days.

Seeing that I had no Mravinsky, I recently downloaded this, and have been enjoying it.  Does anyone happen to have it on CD, or could point me to which specific performances these are?  I'm assuming they are quite late, as the sonics are fairly decent... I don't particularly feel a need to acquire more, but I'd like to have some idea which these are in case I spot other Mravinsky discs in the wild...  ;D

The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Let no such man be trusted.

-- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

aukhawk

According to Presto, only 5, 6, 8, 9 of those are conducted by Mravinsky (and the credits for 9 look a bit dubious), the other two are Kondrashin (with a different orchestra).  No dates are given, no booklet offered.

j winter

Quote from: aukhawk on January 25, 2023, 01:17:05 AMAccording to Presto, only 5, 6, 8, 9 of those are conducted by Mravinsky (and the credits for 9 look a bit dubious), the other two are Kondrashin (with a different orchestra).  No dates are given, no booklet offered.
Thanks for that... it would be rather annoying if some of them aren't even Mravinsky at all, but what the heck.  I have the classic Kondrashin set (Melodyia with the spectacles on the cover), so I'll have to compare -- hopefully they are at least different from what I already have.

For some reason the "Denon Essentials" banner at the top made me think this was a digital version of actual CDs, I guess not.  At least it was cheap, and the performances seem good so far, whoever they are!  :)

For the record, as far as Shostakovich sets go, for a long while I have owned (and given insufficient attention to) Kondrashin, Haitink, Rostropovich, and Barshai, and have this week added downloads of Patrenko, the partial set from Sanderling on Berlin Classics, and the above "Mravinsky."  Plus I have some singles from the usual suspects (Bernstein, Ormandy, etc.).  

I also have the Temirkanov Sony box on order, after greatly enjoying his Tchaikovsky set (which is what started me on my current Russian music binge... I go through phases).

I listened to Patrenko's 4th on my way to work this morning... excellent performance I thought, beautifully recorded (judging from my car's speakers, so take that with a pound of salt).  It ended up being slightly longer than my commute though, so I ended up having to stop 5 minutes from the end... :(  I may run an errand at lunchtime just to finish it off  ;D
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Let no such man be trusted.

-- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

k a rl h e nn i ng

Quote from: j winter on January 25, 2023, 08:04:43 AMThanks for that... it would be rather annoying if some of them aren't even Mravinsky at all, but what the heck.  I have the classic Kondrashin set (Melodyia with the spectacles on the cover), so I'll have to compare -- hopefully they are at least different from what I already have.

For some reason the "Denon Essentials" banner at the top made me think this was a digital version of actual CDs, I guess not.  At least it was cheap, and the performances seem good so far, whoever they are!  :)

For the record, as far as Shostakovich sets go, for a long while I have owned (and given insufficient attention to) Kondrashin, Haitink, Rostropovich, and Barshai, and have this week added downloads of Patrenko, the partial set from Sanderling on Berlin Classics, and the above "Mravinsky."  Plus I have some singles from the usual suspects (Bernstein, Ormandy, etc.). 

I also have the Temirkanov Sony box on order, after greatly enjoying his Tchaikovsky set (which is what started me on my current Russian music binge... I go through phases).

I listened to Patrenko's 4th on my way to work this morning... excellent performance I thought, beautifully recorded (judging from my car's speakers, so take that with a pound of salt).  It ended up being slightly longer than my commute though, so I ended up having to stop 5 minutes from the end... :(  I may run an errand at lunchtime just to finish it off  ;D

Temirkanov's account of the Leningrad was perhaps the first to really sell the piece to me.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

relm1

Quote from: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 25, 2023, 09:03:53 AMTemirkanov's account of the Leningrad was perhaps the first to really sell the piece to me.

What do you think of Bernstein's/CSO?  That interpretation brought Maxim Shostakovich to teers as it was a live performance, and he was in the audience.  To me, that is the pinnacle of this work to which all other interpretations are compared.   Yes, yes, it is Shostakovich by way of Mahler but that is also the essence of Shostakovich.

k a rl h e nn i ng

Quote from: relm1 on January 25, 2023, 04:21:17 PMWhat do you think of Bernstein's/CSO?  That interpretation brought Maxim Shostakovich to teers as it was a live performance, and he was in the audience.  To me, that is the pinnacle of this work to which all other interpretations are compared.  Yes, yes, it is Shostakovich by way of Mahler but that is also the essence of Shostakovich.
It's a stupendous account! Entirely sui generis.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot