Music Born Of Fear Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5

The Score

THE SCORE CONTAINS musical clues that can help us decipher Shostakovich’s intentions.

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stevenrothbardt (not verified)
June 30, 2011

First, I think this performance is either one of the best or is the best available, more subtle and effectively pointed than any I've heard--Lenny or Giergiev or Mavrinsky. It makes a very convincing case for the music and for what is probably behind it. I prefer MTT's tempo in the coda of the finale over Lenny's, because MTT's slower, and ironically, more traditionally slow tempo illustrates the line from "Boris Goudinov" by the Boyars to the people, "Rejoyce! Your job is rejoycing!" In "Testament," Shostakovich is supposed to have said that the final pages of the symphony are like the Boyars in "Boris," beating and whipping the people to rejoyce for the new tzar, and, in fact, I believe Shos. quotes part of "Boris" in the slow movement of his work. Whether one is convinced by any of this or not, MTT certainly makes an excellent case for looking and listening to this symphony with new ears and hearing it anew. By the way, most Soviet-era conductors spoke of this work as being a kind of challenge to Stalin, or something of the sort.

February 2, 2010
Yes I agree. Shostakovich most likely did write this symphony as a way to mock Stalin. And I also think, i can't remember if its the third or fourth movement, that's like an elegy to all the people who died under Stalin;s rule.
February 2, 2010
I agree. Shostakovich most likely wrote this symphony to mock Stalin and his oppressive rule. And the its either the third or fourth movement he most likely wrote as an elegy for all the people the died under Stalin's rule.
January 14, 2010
You underestimate Stalin. The man taught himself to understand all elements of those who he governed - from nuclear physics through to music. Whilst there are obvious motifs that feel satirical, do not underestimate our own bias given the well-known backstory. The symphony seems to have elements of anger, but on the whole to have met it's brief entirely; appealing to the sensibilities of the regime and winning favour.
January 2, 2010
Cleraly Shostakovich wrote this synphony with the intencion of mocking the opressive regime he served, as a personal vendetta, because Stalin would never understand the true meaning of this music. All paterns direct to a, kind of, diary music, of a man, who after beeing imprisioned, takes his revenge, but leaves it to be free again.
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