Shostakovich's Symphony No.5 was given its premiere in 1937. It was outwardly in compliance with the ruling party, but the public heard a message of suffering in Shostakovich's masterpiece and it was an unprecedented triumph. Symphony No.12 "The Year 1917" was dedicated to Vladimir Lenin. Both works were premiered by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Yevgeny Mravinsky. The performances featured here were recorded in December 1965.
Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony is 50 minutes of tragedy, despair, terror, and violence and three minutes of triumph. Premiered in 1953, the best performance is still that conducted by Mravinsky. Yevgeny Mravinsky's June 3, 1955, performance with the Leningrad Philharmonic of Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 is just as great. Mravinsky was the best Soviet conductor and his passionate precision and intense interpretations were as valid for Beethoven as they were for Shostakovich. His interpretations can be hard-driven and sharp-edged, but no one could object to the lucid strength and linear lyricism he brings to the work.
Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 60 (titled Leningrad), was written c. 1939–40. Initially dedicated to the life and deeds of Vladimir Lenin, Shostakovich decided instead to dedicate the symphony to the city of Leningrad on its completion in December 1941. The work remains one of Shostakovich's best-known compositions.
Herbert von Karajan's digital recording of Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony (the only one of the cycle that he committed to disc) is now issued to mark the Shostakovich centenary in 2006.
Symphony No. 8 in С minor, Op. 65 was written by D. Shostakovich in 1943 and performed for the first time in Moscow by the USSR Symphony Orchestra under the baton of E. Mravinsky. The composer dedicated the symphony to the conductor.
Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra gave the American premiere of Shostakovich's valedictory symphony in 1972, followed by its first recording outside the Soviet Union. Collectors may remember its shrill, emasculated sonics, due in part to those notorious matzoh-like dynaflex LP pressings that made RCA infamous in the 1970s. Appearing now for the first time on CD in RCA's High Performance series, the Ormandy Shostakovich 15th blooms with vivacity and life, filling the room with the fabled Philadelphia sound… A major release. [2/10/2000]–Jed Distler, classicstoday.com
Editorial Reviews - Amazon.com
This has always been the version of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 11 to go by. All others pale against this. This first appeared as a double vinyl LP in the 1960s, then as a single LP in the 1970s, and now on this CD. But give credit where all the credit is due: Stokowski extracts a deeply felt performance from the Houston Symphony Orchestra that catches all the nuances of the slow passages of each movement. But kudos go to the sound engineers who capture the incredible bass passages in the last movement. Since this is also a mid-price CD, this is the one to get. –Paul Cook