We hope you’re enjoying the current issue of BBC Music Magazine.
The fifth symphony is one of Shostakovich’s most well-known works. Composed in 1937 at the height of Russia’s purges, the symphony’s premiere in November that year sparked open tears and a rapturous half-hour standing ovation from its Leningrad audience.
The piece marked an apparent return to more traditional modes of musical expression altogether more in keeping with the strict rules of the Communist regime. Although party officials endorsed the work, it turned out to be more subversive than initially assumed, having the ability to evoke strong sentiments from the audiences who witnessed it.
In this live performance, recorded in February 2013 at St David’s Hall in Cardiff, conductor Tadaaki Otaka and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales capture Shostakovich’s fifth symphony in all its ambiguous glory – from the goose-stepping march of the first movement to the ambivalent, unresolved tensions of the last.
The BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Tadaaki Otaka will return to St David’s Hall on Friday 9 May to perform a programme of works by Beethoven and Brahms. The orchestra will invite pianist John Lill to perform Brahms’s First Piano Concerto. Click here for more information.
Next month’s free cover CD will feature music by Ivor Gurney and Frank Bridge, including the world premiere recording of Gurney’s A Gloucestershire Rhapsody. Watch out for the brand new BBC Music Magazine cover CD podcast, featuring deputy editor Jeremy Pound and staff writer Rosie Pentreath.
Photo: Martin Richardson