Review: BBC NOW - Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony @ SDH
Whenever Shostakovich is billed in a programme for a concert, it is always certainly going to be a special event.
His Fifth Symphony is one of his masterpieces and regarded as one of the finest of the 20th century. But you can't speak of him and his music without going into the politics and history of the era in the U.S.S.R. He had censored his Fourth Symphony in an attempt to block any form of criticism.
All artists had to abide by the strict and precise requirements of the Soviet regime. Listening to his music, always feels like a giant S.O.S in musical form. He was known for using codes in his scores, even incorporating his name into them, D.S.C.H. (the D standing for his first name Dmitri). It is at times, a blasting score with frantic marches, urgent openings and a rousing finale.
The BBC NOW, as usual make this music shine. It would be amazing to hear his Fourth Symphony again, i.e. the one he censored in fear of its radical nature. I think it's even better than the Fifth.
Sayaka Shoji played Prokofiev's Second Violin Concerto. This is quite an acute work and she delivered a stellar rendition. I discussed with my plus one, who is Bulgarian, why I much prefer the Russian composer Shostakovich to Prokofiev.
Both used native folk songs, but people were here mainly for the symphony. The beginning taster for the evening was Beethoven's Coriolan Overture, a little earthy flavour of a different kind of music before the Russian's came marching in.
It is a welcome return to Shostakovich. Perhaps some of his later symphonies would prove of interest as well? Anything after the Tenth.
Keep an eye here. There are more BBC NOW reviews to follow.