Dmitry Shostakovich

Festive Overture, for orchestra in A major, Op. 96

    Description by Robert Cummings

    The post-Stalin era in the Soviet Union was a time of great relief and increasing freedom for artists. Fearing for his welfare, Shostakovich had abandoned the symphony for nine years, finally ending the moratorium with the vastly successful Tenth, which he composed shortly after the March 5, 1953, death of Stalin.

    With the artistic climate vastly improved, Shostakovich's expressive language ironically turned conservative and he even began to criticize the avant-garde. Shostakovich then went on to compose thoroughly unadventurous works like The Gadfly film score (1955), the Piano Concerto No. 2 (1957), and the Symphony No. 11 (1957). The Festive Overture came near the beginning of this period and is as conservative a composition ever to come from his pen. It is a light work written to celebrate the 37th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Its joyous mood and lack of pomp clearly suggest the composer viewed politics in a different light now and felt that political leaders no longer had to be feared.

    This work lasts about five minutes and often turns up as a bonus on Shostakovich symphony recordings, thus gaining considerable currency. It is colorful and thematically appealing, sounding like typical Shostakovich in a lighter vein. While the ending flirts with bombast, it is tasteful in its brevity and understatedness. If the work is truly the composer's then-current take on the meaning of the Revolution in an encapsulated form, he must have viewed it most benignly, clearly as a happy and positive event. The freedom Shostakovich enjoyed during this time would not last long, as in the following decade he would become censured for some of his compositions again, most notably the Symphony No. 13 (1962).

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Pro Organo PO 7275
    2016 Erato 557140
    2016 Naxos 8509003
    2014 ABC Classics 5351040
    2014 Regent REGCD 449
    2014 RCA Red Seal 88843063602
    2013 Delos DE 3440
    2013 Naxos 8578253
    2013 Genuin GEN 13294
    2013 Mark / Mark Custom Recording 50240MCD
    2013 Preiser Records PR 91217
    2013 Naïve NC 40044
    2012 Entertainment Group 4041
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon 4790069
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon 4790350
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099970514
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099932786
    2012 Altissimo ALT 63132
    2012 Chandos CHAN 24144
    2012 Entertainment Group 12304
    2012 RPO RPOSP 037
    2011 Newton Classics 8802037
    2011 Entertainment Group 1210
    2011 Naïve V 5252
    2010 Decca
    2010 Warner Classics / Warner Classics & Jazz / Wcj 2564680255
    2010 RPO 28370
    2010 Cascavelle 3137
    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099926475
    2009 Deutsche Grammophon
    2008 Signum UK 135
    2007 EMI Classics 512278
    2007 Brilliant Classics 8128
    2007 Brilliant Classics 8480
    2007 BBC Legends 42202
    2007 Decca
    2007 Decca 475 8748DC12
    2007 Deutsche Grammophon 4776118
    2006 Chandos CHAN2027
    2006 JAV Recordings JAV168
    2006 Decca 475 7431DC9
    2006 Decca 000732502
    2006 Rca Red Seal 76238
    2006 Naxos 8 552129/30
    2006 Urtext 106
    2005 Brilliant / Brilliant Classics 6735
    2005 Brilliant 7096
    2005 Angelok 1 9932
    2005 Liquid 8 12256
    2004 Telarc Distribution CD-80595
    2004 Telarc Distribution SA-60595
    2004 Supraphon 36892
    2004 Universal Classics 000217302
    2003 Mark Custom Recording symphonia2
    2003 Chandos 10088
    2002 EMI Music Distribution 75091
    2000 German Brass 27307
    2000 Sony Classical 89434
    2000 Tring 032
    2000 Virgin Classics 61134
    2000 Summit Records 247
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 439892
    1999 Delos 3246
    1999 RCA 902668844
    1998 Intersound 2837
    1998 BBC Music 1
    1997 Naxos 8 556684
    1996 ASV CDQS6180
    1996 Sony Music Distribution 62592
    1996 Sony Music Distribution 62642
    1995 Rondo Grammofon 8324
    1995 Rene Gailly 87105
    1995 Naxos 553126
    1994 Russian Disc 10902
    1994 London 436 762-2DH
    1994 BIS 570
    1994 Chandos 7000/1
    1993 Telarc Distribution 80305
    1992 Chandos Brass / Chandos CHAN-4519
    1992 Sony Classical 47198
    1992 Chandos 6511
    1992 Chandos 8587
    1990 Delos 3089
    1989 Telarc Distribution 80170
    CBC Records 5069
    BNA 5058
    Deutsche Grammophon 13458
    Mark Custom Recording 1211
    Mark Custom Recording 4105
    BBBC
    Mark Custom Recording 2954
    Imogena Records 016
    Sony Music Distribution 47282
    Philharmonia of the Nations 52
    Collins Records 7012
    Russian Revelation 10061
    Collins Records 11082
    Tring 032
    Brilliant 8128/14
    Virgin 90784
    EMI Music Distribution 54803
    Collins Records 1108
    Russian Revelation 10084
    Revelation Records 40004
    Sheffield Lab 27
    Imogena Records 062