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A more authentic Shostakovich is difficult to imagine: for many years the Great Russian conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky was in the circle of the composer, Dmitri Shostakovich, discussing and performing his works with him, and gaining insight in the multi-layered meanings of the symphonies, masterworks of the 20th century.
Included are the great symphonies 7 'Leningrad', 9 & 10, the vocal cycle “Michelangelo Suite” (with the legendary bass Evgeny Nesterenko) and the Ballet Suite The Bolt. A release of historic importance. Born in Moscow on 4 May 1931, Gennady Rozhdestvensky stands as one of the Russia’s greatest conductors. Having studied at the city’s conservatoire, he later became associated with orchestras including the Bolshoi and Western ensembles such as the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic. He was a regular frequenter of the Proms, a man with an extensive, complex discography who was as much at home in the opera and ballet as in the symphony and concerto. Here the maestro conducts an all-Shostakovich programme, beginning with the towering ‘Leningrad’ symphony.
Dedicated to Russia’s struggle against fascism, to the composer’s native city, this programmatic work – charged with the sinister events of 1941 – is followed by the lesser-known Symphony No.9 – music that presents an immediate contrast to the first through its airy, serene mood. The Suites on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti Op.145a form the centrepiece of compilation; taking eight sonnets and three poems as its basis, this highly philosophical piece – which deals with themes such as anger over injustice in the world – precedes the monumental Tenth Symphony, as much a portrait of Stalin as a conveying of human feelings and passions. Another suite – The Bolt, based on the ballet composed between 1930 and 1931 – completes the line-up. Based on live recordings that were made between 1968 and 1982, this compilation contains arresting performances from both the USSR State Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra and the USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra. Rozhdestvensky was an authority on Shostakovich, and the set shows it: a worthy addition to Brilliant Classics’ Russian Archives series.
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