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Thread: Shostakovich symphonies

  1. #76
    Senior Member Dulova Harps On's Avatar
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    Of the ones i have listened to my faves are:

    5
    10 and 11 (I think his 11th is seriously underrated)
    8
    12

    Not a fan of 4,6, 7 and 1

  2. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dulova Harps On View Post
    Of the ones i have listened to my faves are:

    5
    10 and 11 (I think his 11th is seriously underrated)
    8
    12

    Not a fan of 4,6, 7 and 1
    I agree, #11 is underrated....very fine work...give 1. 4, 6, 7 some time...these are all wonderful works....1 and 4 are from DS' pre-Stalin period.....the genius and flamboyant scoring are readily apparent....#1 is an amazing first symphony...stunning, really...4 was written right as Shostakovich got into trouble with the Great Leader and Teacher, the Steel Man....DS' works take on a darker hue and of course, Russia was soon plunged into the terrible inferno of WWII...don't forget #9!!

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  4. #78
    Senior Member Dulova Harps On's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    I agree, #11 is underrated....very fine work...give 1. 4, 6, 7 some time...these are all wonderful works....1 and 4 are from DS' pre-Stalin period.....the genius and flamboyant scoring are readily apparent....#1 is an amazing first symphony...stunning, really...4 was written right as Shostakovich got into trouble with the Great Leader and Teacher, the Steel Man....DS' works take on a darker hue and of course, Russia was soon plunged into the terrible inferno of WWII...don't forget #9!!
    Yes i will have to give them another listen. I'm really just starting to explore DS so i'm just posting my first impressions really.

    Most of the recordings i was listening to were conducted by Mravinsky so i'm looking forward to hearing other interpretations too.


    I listened to 9 , 13 and 15 last night and really enjoyed 9.

  5. #79
    Senior Member Janspe's Avatar
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    The Shostakovich symphonies certainly are a bit of a mixed bag. The 4th is probably my favourite, but I'm incredibly fond of the 14th and the 15th as well. The popular 5th, 7th and 10th are great but not something I love listening to too often. In a way I still feel like I'm discovering these works, even though I've heard them countless times: just a few months ago I listened to the 8th and was positively perplexed by what I was hearing.

    I'm going to hear quite a lot of Shostakovich this season in Helsinki, including the 11th which I'm looking forward to very much. Come to think of it, I've only heard the 1st, 4th, 10th and 15th symphonies live!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Janspe View Post
    ...I've only heard the 1st, 4th, 10th and 15th symphonies live!
    I've been going to concerts for 50 years and have only ever heard 1, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 live. The 5th repeatedly. I've been playing concerts for almost as long, and have only had the chance to play 1, 5, 9, and 10. I'd love to play 4! Someday, an orchestra somewhere will begin doing Shostakovich Festivals like they do festivals for Mozart, Beethoven, and Mahler. It'd be great to hear all the symphonies and concertos as well as some of the ballet or film music with a first-class orchestra and a sympathetic conductor. Helsinki would be a good place to do it, too!

  7. #81
    Senior Member AfterHours's Avatar
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    Shostakovich's are among the toughest to put in qualitative order, except that I think 15 is for sure his greatest masterpiece (and one of music's all time masterpieces).

    If forced to choose it would probably go something like the following (with only his 15th secure, rankings 2nd place through 9th place potentially interchangable and all of them among his best work imo. Below that are probably his "least great").

    (1st) Symphony No. 15
    (2) 7
    (3) 8
    (4) 1
    (5) 10
    (6) 11
    (7) 9
    (8) 6
    (9) 5
    (10) 4
    (11) 3
    (12) 12
    (13) 2
    (14) 13
    (15) 14

    His 5th Symphony in particular moves around a lot for me, sometimes seeming diabolically ambiguous, in mesmerizing conflict/anguish with itself; other times seeming thematically indecisive/confused and perhaps mitigating a bit of its own momentum. Sometimes I rank it as high as his 2nd best, other times as low as his 9th best and all rankings in between...
    Last edited by AfterHours; Oct-25-2019 at 08:57.

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  9. #82
    Senior Member Janspe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
    Someday, an orchestra somewhere will begin doing Shostakovich Festivals like they do festivals for Mozart, Beethoven, and Mahler. It'd be great to hear all the symphonies and concertos as well as some of the ballet or film music with a first-class orchestra and a sympathetic conductor. Helsinki would be a good place to do it, too!
    This is something I've been thinking about as well. I was a bit salty about our Mahler season (all of the symphonies, well, almost!) last season here: is there nothing else to do? Mahler is played all the time. Not that I didn't thoroughly enjoy every single one of the symphonies - he's my favourite symphonist, after all - but there are so many worthy symphony cycles that could be presented like that. Nielsen, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Bruckner, Rautavaara, Vaughan Williams, Dvořák... Repertoire that doesn't get presented in a cyclical manner that often.

    I have to be fair towards the Radio Symphony Orchestra, though: they're doing a lot of Shostakovich this seaso:

    - Piano Concerto No. 1
    - Violin Concerto No. 1
    - Violin Concerto No. 2
    - Cello Concerto No. 1
    - Symphony No. 1
    - Symphony No. 6
    - Symphony No. 9
    - Symphony No. 10
    - Symphony No. 11
    - Symphony No. 14

    Also the 1st piano trio and the 13th string quartet as late night chamber music events after the main concerts.

    That's a lot of Shostakovich to digest! So happy about the 2nd violin concerto, it's a true gem. Six symphonies out of 15 is not bad at all.

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    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
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    I'm sure I must have already said this in this thread but 14 is surely one of his greatest works and the Currentzis recording is the one that makes such a conclusion inevitable!

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  12. #84
    Senior Member Lisztian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AfterHours View Post
    Shostakovich's are among the toughest to put in qualitative order, except that I think 15 is for sure his greatest masterpiece (and one of music's all time masterpieces).

    If forced to choose it would probably go something like the following (with only his 15th secure, rankings 2nd place through 9th place potentially interchangable and all of them among his best work imo. Below that are probably his "least great").

    (1st) Symphony No. 15
    (2) 7
    (3) 8
    (4) 1
    (5) 10
    (6) 11
    (7) 9
    (8) 6
    (9) 5
    (10) 4
    (11) 3
    (12) 12
    (13) 2
    (14) 13
    (15) 14

    His 5th Symphony in particular moves around a lot for me, sometimes seeming diabolically ambiguous, in mesmerizing conflict/anguish with itself; other times seeming thematically indecisive/confused and perhaps mitigating a bit of its own momentum. Sometimes I rank it as high as his 2nd best, other times as low as his 9th best and all rankings in between...
    Interesting list. The only people I've ever seen consider the 15th to be the best are you and Scaruffi. From what I can tell 4 is also usually considered to be among the very best, and 13/14 at the least in the upper half. I say all of this without knowing the works too well though, and I'm sure you'd know them better than me! The main point of this post is I'm noticing that opinions on Shosties symphonies are more varied than most other composers.
    Last edited by Lisztian; Oct-25-2019 at 12:05.

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  14. #85
    Senior Member Art Rock's Avatar
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    Using the same split as I just posted for Mahler:

    Hors concours (limited to my favourite 100 compositions in classical music): 7
    Essential (one tier lower, but definitely musts to have in my collection): 4,5,8,10,13,14
    Important (one tier lower, but still desirable to have): 1,6,9,11,12,15
    Good to have (another tier lower, but indeed good to have): 2,3
    Allüberall und ewig blauen licht die Fernen! Ewig ... ewig ...

  15. #86
    Senior Member AfterHours's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lisztian View Post
    Interesting list. The only people I've ever seen consider the 15th to be the best are you and Scaruffi. From what I can tell 4 is also usually considered to be among the very best, and 13/14 at the least in the upper half. I say all of this without knowing the works too well though, and I'm sure you'd know them better than me! The main point of this post is I'm noticing that opinions on Shosties symphonies are more varied than most other composers.
    Admittedly, I need to revisit his 4th, 3rd, 12th, 2nd, 13th, 14th. I am right in the middle of going back through his symphonies (in "qualitative", not date, order) and I haven't made it to those yet, but I don't recall them being as great as the others. But I wouldn't be surprised if one or more of those were to move up as Shosty does indeed have several that have shifted around for me over the years.

    The 15th gets a pretty good deal of praise these days but I think you might be right that there aren't too many, if any at all, outside of Scaruffi, that also would call it his very best.

    Here's a good intro into what is so extraordinary and profound about it: https://www.theguardian.com/music/to...15-tom-service
    "We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time." -- T.S. Eliot

  16. #87
    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    For me the essential Shostakovich is the string quartets and other chamber music, especially the viola sonata.

    Among the symphonies, I have very strong positive associations with 10, 15, 9, 5, 6 (in roughly descending order). The others are a blur, I have to revisit them.
    There are two kinds of music, good music and the other kind. - Duke Ellington.

  17. #88
    Member MrMeatScience's Avatar
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    I agree that the 15th has to be the best of his symphonies. It's in turns cryptic, profound, humorous, and apocalyptic -- the perfect Shostakovich symphony. If I had to rank them today, I'd say:

    (1) 15
    (2) 8
    (3) 10
    (4) 5
    (5) 9
    (6) 13
    (7) 1
    (8) 4
    (9) 7
    (10) 11
    (11) 12
    (12) 14
    (13) 6
    (14) 3
    (15) 2

    I think 14 will rise in my estimation, but it's a tough nut to crack and I don't know enough performances yet to have a more holistic view.

  18. #89
    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    I didn't approach the Shostakovich Symphonies methodically, and only came upon the 15th relatively recently. It instantly became a favorite, more or less tied with the 10th as my favorite among Shostakovich's symphonies. I like the way it skirts a line between ironic and apocalyptic.
    There are two kinds of music, good music and the other kind. - Duke Ellington.

  19. #90
    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    I've seen the 15th fairly often on concert programs so it seems to have some popularity. I've also seen people describe it as "depressing" or "about death," though it doesn't sound that way to me. Well, the 2nd movement is certainly gloomy enough, but it has a cunningly-prepared climax that'll lift you right out of your chair. So all is forgiven!


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