Before its astonishing 9 August 1942 performance, in the city to which it is dedicated, Shostakovich’s mighty Seventh Symphony actually received its world premiere in Kuybyshev with the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra on 5 March 1942.
It’s a sensational masterpiece and oft-recorded. But, what are the very best recordings of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7 ‘Leningrad’ ? Here are some to start with…
NBC Symphony Orchestra/Arturo Toscanini
Opus Kura OPK7050
A performance that Shostakovich is said to have felt was unsatisfactory, but an essential document in the work’s history: this was the performance that was broadcast across the US on 19 July 1942.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Leonard Bernstein
DG 477 7587
St Petersburg Philharmonic/Yuri Temirkanov
Temirkanov’s orchestra is the one that Shostakovich knew and loved. And there’s a searing imagination as well as an indelible sense of connection and commitment here.
Russian National Orchestra/Paavo Järvi
Järvi’s recent recording is one of the most powerful of recent performances, combining a meticulous ear for detail and colour with a thrilling realisation of the symphony’s dark drama and implacable intensity.
Mariinsky Orchestra/Valery Gergiev
Gergiev brings his feverish, in-the-moment inspiration to this performance, but the work’s overall narrative never suffers, even at his broad speeds, and the final climax is a thrilling revelation of triumph wrought from tragedy.