Shostakovich - Symphony No. 6 (hr-Sinfonieorch. cond. Prieto)

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Schostakowitsch: 6. Sinfonie - hr-Sinfonieorchester ?-Carlos Miguel Prieto

I. Largo - Moderato - Largo 
II. Allegro 
III. Presto 

hr-Sinfonieorchester (Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra) 
Carlos Miguel Prieto, Dirigent 

Alte Oper Frankfurt, 18. Januar 2013 



The Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 54 by Dmitri Shostakovich was written in 1939, and first performed in Leningrad on 21 November 1939 by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra under Yevgeny Mravinsky.

The Sixth Symphony was originally said to be a large-scale "Lenin Symphony" - a project which was often announced, but never materialised. Shostakovich had announced once in September 1938 that he was anxious to work on his Sixth Symphony, which would be a monumental composition for soloists, chorus and orchestra employing the poem Vladimir Ilyich Lenin by Vladimir Mayakovsky, but the declamatory nature of the poem made it difficult to set. He later tried to incorporate other literature about Lenin in his new symphony, but without success. In January 1939, he spoke about the Sixth Symphony in a radio address, with no mention of Lenin or any extramusical associations.

The purely instrumental Symphony No. 6 was completed in September 1939. Shostakovich commented on it in the press:

The musical character of the Sixth Symphony will differ from the mood and emotional tone of the Fifth Symphony, in which moments of tragedy and tension were characteristic. In my latest symphony, music of a contemplative and lyrical order predominates. I wanted to convey in it the moods of spring, joy, youth.

On 21 November 1939, exactly two years after the premiere of the Symphony No. 5, the premiere of the Symphony No. 6 took place in the Large Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic in Leningrad by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra under Yevgeny Mravinsky—the same location and performers. In the same programme was the Romantic Poem for violin and orchestra of Zhelobinsky. The symphony had a successful premiere, and the finale was encored. However, although a local critic lauded Shostakovich for further freeing himself from formalistic tendencies in his new symphony, the work was later criticised for its ungainly structure and the jarring juxtaposition of moods. The fact that the symphony was performed during a 10-day festival of Soviet music which included patriotic works by Prokofiev (excerpts from Alexander Nevsky) and Shaporin (On the Field of Kulikovo) probably did not help.

The first recording was made by Leopold Stokowski with the Philadelphia Orchestra for RCA Victor in December 1940.
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