Friday, December 16, 2011

Dmitri Shostakovich - Symphony 1 & 2, Moscow Phil. Orch., Kondrashin (Melodiya - 65 803 9)

Dmitri Shostakovich may as well be one of the mostly misunderstood composers of all time. His tenure coincided with the most ruthless era of a country's regime. Oppression was an everyday occuring with millions dead being a statistical number. Under these conditions, he was labelled by his fellow composers as partisan, communist, supporter of the evil etc, while due to his mainly shy character, he accepted all accusations with a blank stare and unwilling resolution.

It was later on that people learned about the truths, his twice banning from composition due to him not composing based on Politburo's requests and standards. His trials for creating new ways to express himself musically all met with negative responses. He thought about running away more than once (According to records), but couldn't leave his mother land behind.

In true form, Shostakovich is probably the most established composer of the classic (Traditional) classical music works in the 20th century. While his fellow composers were trying everything new, he was confined only in traditional ways. This has put tremendous pressure on him. However, his first two symphonies on this record are totally apart from this issue since they were composed before he started to feel the chains being tied on him.

He wrote his first two symphonies when he was 19 and 21 respectively. They brought him immense fame during his early ages (Of course not to be compared with sensational Mozart anyway). Both symphonies are openly showing his eagerness in composing with full of energy style. Both symphonies are more like a shirt which someone wears while going out on a Saturday night. Everything about the symphonies seem programmed for that particular occasion. It is like Barcelona playing football. It seems preorganized, yet it is beautiful to watch. In this case, the programmed event is Shostakovich's entrance to the stage. He wanted to make a big entry and he got it.

Rhythm is fast, melodies are flamboyant, drums are aggressive. He does not hesitate. The 2nd Symphony was named after the 10th anniversary of the revolution and it is truly evident from it's massive sound. It creates a picturesque effect on the listener about that era of Russian history where everything had to be large and should show off. His standard drums vs bells style is all along both symphonies. These are truly fascinating when you think that they are beginning of one's career.

One thing that should not be taken for granted is the direction of Krill Kondrashin. He is the real expert on the symphonies of Shostakovich. Kondrashin has a personal perception of all the symphonies where he creates a different touch by taking into account the realities and stories behind that particular symphony he is conducting. When the related person is Shostakovich, there are many behind the curtain stories as well. Shostakovich told all his feelings and frustrations via his only channel, music. He shouted, objected, cried, denounced and broke all the chains with his music and that is why this record is truly important. It is showcasing the beginning of a remarkable career story told to us by an extinguished narrator.

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