Author Topic: Shostakovich Symphonies, Cycles & Otherwise  (Read 190555 times)

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Offline relm1

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Re: Shostakovich Symphonies, Cycles & Otherwise
« Reply #1540 on: October 29, 2020, 06:53:34 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.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Shostakovich Symphonies, Cycles & Otherwise
« Reply #1541 on: October 29, 2020, 07:11:17 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.
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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

Offline Jo498

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Re: Shostakovich Symphonies, Cycles & Otherwise
« Reply #1542 on: October 29, 2020, 08:50:11 AM »
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.
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Offline amw

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Re: Shostakovich Symphonies, Cycles & Otherwise
« Reply #1543 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.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2020, 02:35:35 PM by amw »

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Shostakovich Symphonies, Cycles & Otherwise
« Reply #1544 on: October 30, 2020, 03:21:48 AM »
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.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2020, 03:24:10 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

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Offline Leo K.

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Re: Shostakovich Symphonies, Cycles & Otherwise
« Reply #1545 on: October 30, 2020, 06:24:35 AM »
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!

Offline Leo K.

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Re: Shostakovich Symphonies, Cycles & Otherwise
« Reply #1546 on: October 30, 2020, 06:27:04 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.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Shostakovich Symphonies, Cycles & Otherwise
« Reply #1547 on: October 30, 2020, 10:30:56 AM »
The Tenth is a huge fave of mine.
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

Offline relm1

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Re: Shostakovich Symphonies, Cycles & Otherwise
« Reply #1548 on: October 30, 2020, 03:56:34 PM »
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?

Offline Christo

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Re: Shostakovich Symphonies, Cycles & Otherwise
« Reply #1549 on: October 31, 2020, 10:51:37 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.
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Shostakovich Symphonies, Cycles & Otherwise
« Reply #1550 on: October 31, 2020, 12:19:50 PM »
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

Offline relm1

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Re: Shostakovich Symphonies, Cycles & Otherwise
« Reply #1551 on: October 31, 2020, 05:09:28 PM »
- and live it works best IMHO.

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

Offline Leo K.

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Re: Shostakovich Symphonies, Cycles & Otherwise
« Reply #1552 on: November 02, 2020, 07:33:09 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!

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Shostakovich Symphonies, Cycles & Otherwise
« Reply #1553 on: November 03, 2020, 11:24:45 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).