Valery Gergiev / Mariinsky (Kirov) Theater Orchestra

Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 4, 5 & 6

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Valery Gergiev's critically praised recordings of the symphonies of Dmitry Shostakovich with the Mariinsky Orchestra have been presented in the hybrid SACD format, which gives the music extraordinary depth and striking clarity, as well as a heightened sense of emotion. This double-SACD package of the Symphony No. 4 in C minor, the Symphony No. 5 in D minor, and the Symphony No. 6 in B minor is fascinating, in part because these works represent a turbulent period for Shostakovich, due to the hazards of Soviet censorship, but also because they showed stark contrasts in his style. The Fourth was his last open flirtation with modernism, which provoked harsh criticism that caused it to be withdrawn until the 1960s, whereas the Fifth was an instant success with audiences and quickly adopted as a masterpiece of Soviet ideals. The Sixth, while not as daring as the Fourth nor as conventional as the Fifth, was decidedly abstract in conception, and it remains a puzzle because of its unbalanced structure and enigmatic character. Perhaps more than other releases in Gergiev's cycle, this volume invites the listener to explore Shostakovich's processes in the context of his time and side-by-side comparisons of these symphonies will highlight many features of Shostakovich's symphonic methods.

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