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Thread: Shostakovich is the last great symphonist

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    Default Shostakovich is the last great symphonist

    I have been listening to alot of Shostakovich, I must say his music opened a new way of listening/looking at music for me, but most important of all, it sounds so cool, he actually made his initial into his music, that's cool, except I can't do that with my name...

    My favorite Shotakovich symphony has to be the fifth, and the seventh
    what do you think, I also liked his second and third quartets

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    Junior Member Music_Junkie's Avatar
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    I really love Shostakovich's music! It can be hard and complex to play though. He has so many ways of evoking images in a persons mind and you can really hear his struggle against all the things that were built up against him in the time he was writing. I remember my first real exsposure to Shostakovich almost gave me nightmares because I could hear and see in my head the nazi's banging on people doors and dragging them away.

    There are many great symphonic composers after Shostakovich, they are just different (Alan Hovahness anyone?!) and Shostakovich is one of those composers who borderlined the untroven paths in music at his time without fully going there and the composers who did and classical music in the 20th century and today has changed a lot in such a short time.

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    The Fourteenth is my favorite, although it's only a symphony because Shostakovich called it one. I also love the Fourth, the Fifth (the opening movement is sheer perfection: not one note out of place), the Eighth, the Tenth, the Eleventh (the most underrated: I keep waiting for it to catch on), the Thirteenth, and the Fifteenth. The weakest by far is #12.

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    Senior Member Edward Elgar's Avatar
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    I like the last two movements of his 5th Symphony. Have you noticed that the main theme of the 4th movement is the same as the main theme in the film Troy? Anyway, I love Shozzy's work - it reminds me of dark chocolate!

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    Default Shostakovich

    Shostakovich's best symphonies are world class. Some are not so hot!
    Required
    Sym. 10 Karayan
    Sym. 5 Bernstein
    Sym. 8 Haitink or Mravinsky
    Sym. 1 Bernstein or Haitink
    Sym. 6
    Sym. 9 Bernstein

    Sym. 2 and 3 sound like experiments, 4 is a huge mess, 7 is a War soundtrack and a bit hokey. Sym. 11 is a dismal Russian Bore! Sym 12 again. 13 is GREAT if you like dark Russian lieder!, 14 is tough to find anything to like and Sym. 15 is just plain weird.
    I know this doesn't do his effort justice, just my opinion in a nut shell

    TEN is Awesome!

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    Senior Member 4/4player's Avatar
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    This might be off subject, but I never heard of any works from Shostakovich. anybody can suggest pieces thats good(not painful or frightening) to a beginner listener? Thanks!

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    I've only heard Shostakovich's String Quartets (and only 5 of them, 2, 3, 7, 8, 12) but after reading this thread I must buy some of his symphonies. His 15th sounds very intriguing.

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    Yes, you will surely love the 15th Symphony of Shostakovitch. It's simply extraordinary.

    Some years ago I heard it live in London in a concert given by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The hall was packed. It's such a curious, riveting work. The final movement is just astonishing. Almost mystical in its use of long sustained strings and the extraordinary use of percussion. What an amazing end to Shostakovitch's symphonic career. One of the great works of the 20th century without doubt. Where does the symphony go from here ???

    Regards

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    Senior Member Edward Elgar's Avatar
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    I also love Shozzy 15, because it ends quietly - this can be the most emotionally powerful ending to a symphony and was exerscised in Bhrams' 3rd. Unfortunatly it is for this reason that these uber symphonies are not performed as regulaly as they deserve. I do hope that symphonies to come are not that atonal, but do include dissonance and also reflect the times it's written in.
    When all the paint has been dried, when all the stone has been carved, music shall remain, and we shall work with what remains.

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    I enjoy listening to Shostakovich's lighter works such as his Ballet and Jazz Suites, the waltzes are simply gorgeous.
    "Look here, I have given up my time, my work, my friends and my career to come here and learn from you, and I am not going to write a petit menuet dans le style de Mozart." - Ralph Vaughan Williams to Maurice Ravel

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    Senior Member Kurkikohtaus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4/4player View Post
    Can anybody can suggest pieces thats good to a beginner listener?
    The 5th Symphony is probably the best exposition of Shostakovich's style, without getting too bombastic, well for Shostakovich anyway.

    I must disagree, however, about Shostakovich being a "great symphonist". His output is extremely uneven, not only from piece to piece but within each piece as well.

    He is a composer with tremendous skill and facility, in any medium, largely owing to the drill that he subjected himself to. He wrote all the time, and when he had no ideas of his own, he arranged other people's compositions for various ensembles, to keep the "composing machine" well oiled. Unfortunately, I often get the feeling that that is precisely what one is listening to: a well-oiled composing machine. After a certain amount of hearings, the gloss of his music often wears off and you are left with the feeling of a composer going through the motions: theme - routine - transition - routine - climax - end.

    But Shostakovich is not to blame for this, as he more than any other composer in history could not simply write what he wanted to write, and one cannot "just listen" to his music without understanding the context within which each individual piece was written.

    We are left to wonder what his undeniable genius would have produced if he had been allowed to follow his own path.

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    I have just joined this forum, so hi everyone!

    I LOVE shosty, he's one of the best composers ever IMO. I play the 2nd violin in a local amateur orchestra (http://www.concertorchestra.com) and our conductor is a huge fan as well. So far we've done Symohony No. 5 (mesmerising) 10 (very good, but not the best), and in March we will be doing the 7th (exhausting!) I don't know WHY I like this guy so much, but the 5th always gets to me, from the quiet and menacing de dah de dur beginning to the insanely cheerful and over optimistic ending. I love playing his stuff and I love listening to it.

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    Senior Member Kurkikohtaus's Avatar
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    I hope you mean insanely cheerful and over optimistic.

    Because is you mean insanely cheerful and over optimistic, you have missed the point entirely.

    What Shostakovich meant by this ending is well documented in his own words:

    It is as if someone is grabbing you by the throat and shouting at you:
    "Rejoice! Rejoice!"
    Terrified, you reply:
    "I'm rejoicing, I'm rejoicing!"


    The ending of the 5th was another in a long series of irony-filled concessions that Shostakovich had to make in his life. Unfortunately, not many conductors know Shostakovich's account of this ending, and misinterpret it entirely, mainly by playing it twice as fast as it is written. At the original tempo, it truly conjurs up the image of a man reading aloud the confession that the communist regime handed him.

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    My favourette is NOT the 7th please!

    I've not yet heard all but the 5th 8th and 10th are the best. The first movement when the string part comes in is mindeboggling. And 8th has it's complexity and simplity, very expressionism symphony.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurkikohtaus View Post
    I hope you mean insanely cheerful and over optimistic.

    Because is you mean insanely cheerful and over optimistic, you have missed the point entirely.

    What Shostakovich meant by this ending is well documented in his own words:

    It is as if someone is grabbing you by the throat and shouting at you:
    "Rejoice! Rejoice!"
    Terrified, you reply:
    "I'm rejoicing, I'm rejoicing!"


    The ending of the 5th was another in a long series of irony-filled concessions that Shostakovich had to make in his life. Unfortunately, not many conductors know Shostakovich's account of this ending, and misinterpret it entirely, mainly by playing it twice as fast as it is written. At the original tempo, it truly conjurs up the image of a man reading aloud the confession that the communist regime handed him.
    ...

    First chance I get I'm buying his 5th. That sounds amazing.

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