Title - 'Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphonies 4 & 11'
Artist - Andris Nelsons
For those not in the classical know, Andris Nelsons is a Latvian conductor. He is currently the music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.
Nelsons studied conducting with Alexander Titov in Saint Petersburg, Russia and participated in conducting master classes with Neeme Järvi and Jorma Panula.
He came to the attention of Mariss Jansons when he emergency-substituted with the Oslo Philharmonic in their trumpet section during an orchestra tour. Nelsons counts Jansons as a mentor, and has been a conducting student with him since 2002.
In 2003, Nelsons became principal conductor of the Latvian National Opera. He concluded his tenure there after four years in 2007. In 2006, Nelsons became chief conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie of Herford, Germany, a post he held until the end of the 2008/09 season.
His first conducting appearance at the Metropolitan Opera was in October 2009, a production of Turandot. In July 2010, Nelsons made his debut at the Bayreuth Festival, conducting a new production of Wagner's Lohengrin at the opening performance of the festival.
With the CBSO, Nelsons has recorded music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Richard Strauss, and Igor Stravinsky for the Orfeo label. Separately from the CBSO, Nelsons has also recorded for the BR-Klassik label.
Nelsons has also recorded commercially with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for Deutsche Grammophon, where their album Under Stalin's Shadow, of the Symphony No 10 of Shostakovich, received a 2015 Grammy Award for best orchestral performance. This DG album is part of an intended long-term contract between the Boston Symphony, Nelsons and DG, as extended in May 2016.
Releasing July 6th, 2018 via Deutsche Grammophon, this wondrous Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphonies 4 & 11 from the widely acclaimed, Grammy-winning Shostakovich Symphony cycle with Music Director Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra will soon be pleasing all fans of classical.
CD 1 - Symphony No. 4 in C Minor, Op. 43
1. Allegretto poco moderato (14:56)
2. Presto (11:47)
3. Moderato con moto (8:24)
4. Largo (6:52)
5. Allegro (22:25)
CD 2 - Symphony No. 11 in G Minor, Op. 103 "The Year 1905"
1. The Palace Square (Adagio) (17:15)
2. The Ninth of January (Allegro - Adagio - Allegro - Adagio) (18:46)
3. Eternal Memory (Adagio) (12:28)
4. The Tocsin (Allegro non troppo) (14:10)
After the very successful Symphony No. 10 in 2015 and beauty of Symphonies Nos. 5, 8, 9 from 2016, Andris Nelsons and his Bostonians turn their attention to the extrovert Fourth and dramatic Eleventh - both recorded live for the third installment of this long-term collaboration of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
A sheer, unadulterated joy from start to finish, Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphonies 4 & 11 showcases, to my mind, Nelsons at his best, once again, of course. That said, and please this is a compliment, what I heard, and what is so attractive about his music, is, well, Shostakovich. The man, not the composer. Not Nelsons.
For Shostakovich: poignant and tragic, mellow and life-affirming, hopeful, melancholy and joyous, means that Nelsons didn't have to try too hard to bring to life the man's greatest works. For, some who can bring us the complete romantic symphonies that he did, Shostakovich must have a resting spot within the heart of Nelsons, that's for sure.
As for a little history on these two symphonies, although composed in 1935-1936, this 4th symphony was not heard until 1961. Shostakovich had come under fire in the official Soviet press for “formalism” and “decadence” after Stalin attended a performance of his opera, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, and had his peculiar moral sensibilities offended, more by the libretto than the music, one can imagine.
After being put into rehearsal, Shostakovich thought the better of it, and withdrew the work. It is therefore a pivotal work in the composer's career, both stylistically and politically.
However, his 11th symphony, which on its face should be no less of a propaganda piece than Symphonies 2 & 3, because it commemorates the events of the failed 1905 Revolution, has become the most played of Shostakovich’s last five symphonies.
This may be due to the almost cinematic depiction of the events before the Winter Palace that faithful year. Again, it shows its deep debt to Mahler in the funeral march movement, and its depiction of the peasants' massacre by the Czar's cossacks is brutally graphic to a degree without being vulgar.
Even the introduction of material from various revolutionary songs does not debase the high level of musical discourse, and the ending is among Shostakovich’s most thrillingly bombastic.
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