I listened to the Caetani performance which is divided into six segments, each with its tempo marking. The first five are instrumental, while the last (4-5 minutes, by no means the longest) adds a chorus.

In the instrumental portion of the symphony, it seems like Dmitri was simply overflowing with ideas, all of which he dumped in kind of haphazardly. The overall effect is one of frenetic excitement. Episode follows episode with little development. Whenever the music seems to be building toward some sort of climax, it goes racing off in a totally new direction. Musically and dramatically, resolutions are very hard to find. Fortunately many of the ideas are interesting and the orchestration is brilliant; but there is little here to bring any traditional kind of musical satisfaction. Even the short andante episodes barely temper the non-stop kaleidoscopic activity.

The final movement seems more traditional and, to me, not of much interest. Maybe if I were a dedicated Communist and spoke Russian I’d feel differently…or not.

In short, I kind of like this symphony, but not too often!