Shostakovich: Symphony No.5 & No.9
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1. Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5: I. Moderato 16:56
2. Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5: II. Allegretto 5:31
3. Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5: III. Largo 15:34
4. Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5: IV. Allegro non troppo 11:15
5. Shostakovich: Symphony No. 9: I. Allegro 5:16
6. Shostakovich: Symphony No. 9: II. Moderato 9:03
7. Shostakovich: Symphony No. 9: III. Presto 2:47
8. Shostakovich: Symphony No. 9: IV. Largo 4:27
9. Shostakovich: Symphony No. 9: 'V. Allegretto 6:40
Shostakovich wrote the Fifth at last in partial response to criticism he received from official Party censures under Stalin, who accused him of “modernist formalism,” and of writing music for intellectuals rather than for the People. The work’s infamous title page inscription reads: “A Soviet artist’s practical, creative response to just criticism.”
But Shostakovich was not crumbling under the weight of Party pressure. Rather, in a reaffirmation of his musical goals, he genuinely wanted to reach the people through his music, and did so with the Fifth. It had a direct and immediate impact on those attending the premiere. As the composer himself related, “People who came to the premier of the Fifth in the best of moods wept.” A 20th-century masterpiece, the Symphony No. 5, with its rich harmonies and stirring melodies, is as affecting today as it was at the premier performance.
In style, the Ninth is a completely different work. Lighthearted and even humorous, it makes a lively and charming contrast to the Fifth. Its apparent frivolity, however, appalled some listeners, who were expecting a grandiose “victory” symphony to celebrate the end of World War II in Europe. Stalin himself had wanted an apotheosis from the composer, but he too, was sorely disappointed. He had been anticipating a chorus, soloists, or a dedication. Instead, as Shostakovich, relates, “It was just music, which Stalin didn’t understand very well and which was of dubious content.”