Dmitry Shostakovich

Symphony No. 4 in C minor, Op. 43

    Description by James Leonard

    Shostakovich began composing his Symphony No. 4 in September 1935 and put it aside in January 1936 while he went on tour with his cello sonata. On January 28, he read the unsigned editorial on the front page of Pravda condemning him and two of his works and predicting he would come to a bad end if he didn't literally change his tune. He finished the Fourth in May 1936, but withdrew the work while it was still in rehearsal. The piece was premiered by Kiril Kondrashin in the U.S.S.R. in 1961 and in the West in 1962. Although Shostakovich had enough sense to withdraw the Fourth, he also had enough guts to finish it as he started it: as a fusion of his own archly ironic modernism with the deep emotionalism and vast scale of the Mahlerian Romantic symphony. The result is a gargantuan work for enormous orchestra in three movements, lasting more than an hour in performance. The opening movement is a nearly half-hour Allegretto poco moderato profligate in themes, bracing in orchestration, unfathomable in form, and unrelentingly violent in expression. With an opening theme clearly based on the opening theme of Mahler's Symphony No. 6, Shostakovich's Fourth goes its own way toward savage brutality and more savage irony. Through volcanic eruptions and tectonic disruptions, the Allegretto pushes and punches its way to a grinding conclusion. The central movement is a relatively brief Moderato con moto that slithers and sneaks through a blasted landscape, trailing themes from the Scherzo of Mahler's Second over ominous percussion rattling. The closing movement is as large as the opening movement, but set in several contiguous sections: an opening funeral march Largo à la Mahler, a fast and tough Allegro with a two-note ostinato, a sarcastically sentimental Viennese Waltz, a grandiloquent peroration for the whole massive orchestra, and a quietly ticking coda haunted by trumpet calls and a ghostly celesta.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegretto poco moderato - Presto
    2. Moderato con moto
    3. Largo - Allegro

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186647
    2018 Deutsche Grammophon 4835220
    2018 Deutsche Grammophon
    2018 Münchner Philharmoniker 793052112622
    2017 Urania WS 121333
    2016 Melodiya MELCD 1002431
    2015 Gega / Gega New GD 380
    2015 Naxos 8501111
    2015 Warner Classics 552758
    2014 Mariinsky MAR 0545
    2014 Alto / Musical Concepts MCSCD 6004
    2013 Decca 4785437
    2013 Naxos 8573188
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon 4790249
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon
    2012 Alto MCSCD 1169
    2012 Entertainment Group 12305
    2011 Avi-Music / CAvi-music 8553235
    2011 Warner Classics 256464177
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Decca
    2009 Warner Classics
    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099969759
    2008 Melodiya 1001065
    2008 MDG 9371208
    2008 MDG 3371208
    2008 CSO Resound 901814
    2007 Brilliant Classics 8128
    2007 Avie 2114
    2007 EMI Classics 3886952
    2007 EMI Classics 88676
    2007 Warner Classics
    2007 BBC Legends 42202
    2007 Haenssler 93193
    2007 Decca
    2007 Decca 475 8748DC12
    2006 RCO / RCO Live 06004
    2006 Supraphon 38902
    2006 Weitblick 40
    2006 Berlin Classics 0016112
    2006 Arts Music 47850
    2006 Arts Music 47703-2
    2006 Profil / Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler 6023
    2006 Warner Classics
    2006 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 0946365300
    2006 Decca 475 7413DC11
    2005 Philips / Universal/Philips 4708412
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 Chandos 10296
    2005 Capriccio Records 71029
    2004 Andante 4090
    2004 Brilliant Classics 6324
    2004 Philips 000340602
    2004 EMI Classics 7243557824
    2004 Decca / Philips
    2003 EMI Classics
    2002 Brilliant 6275
    2002 Deutsche Grammophon 447759
    2001 Naxos 8 501102
    2000 Melodiya 72915
    1999 Melodiya 7432163462
    1998 EMI Music Distribution 72658
    1998 Supraphon 3353
    1998 Musikszene Schweiz 6149
    1998 Teldec 17046
    1996 Sony Music Distribution 62409
    1996 Praga 7250090
    1996 EMI Music Distribution 569212-2
    1995 Praga PR250 090
    1995 EMI Classics / EMI Music Distribution 55476
    1995 London 444 430-2LC11
    1994 Naxos 505017
    1994 Naxos 550625
    1993 Denon Records 75330
    1993 Decca 425065
    1992 Chandos 8640
    1992 Teldec 76261
    Decca 000387936
    RCA Victor Red Seal 60887
    London 425693
    BBC Music Magazine 220
    Capriccio Records 71032
    Brilliant 6275-2
    Brilliant Classics 8635/89
    Brilliant 8128/2
    Arts Music 47703
    Russian Disc 11190