Shostakovich symphonies

It has been several decades, at least, since I really listened to Shostakovich’s symphonies. However, having been writing for orchestra lately, I had a desire to go back and work my way through them again – and found myself surprised that I found them as intense and profound as I did way back when, even though my musical tastes have changed a bit over the years. I simply loved carefully following the flow of his musical thought – how he moves from moment to moment, when he decides to dive headlong into a contrasting idea, how he develops and morphs a musical thought, or shifts orchestration to paint a theme in an entirely different light. Of course, there are his radical shifts in mood, ranging from the most profound depths of sorrow and despair, to moments that make your spirit soar, to uncontrolled bouts of absurd silliness.

While I can’t say I have a particular favorite, as I listened to them all, I was wondering why it was just the 5th that was taught when I was in the conservatory and it is the 5th that I occasionally hear on the radio – and none of the others. There are several others which I prefer by far. A matter of taste of course, but the ones I’ve now listened to multiple times, without tiring of them, are 7, 8, 10, 11, 12 and 14. I admit I’m still scratching my head over the first movement of #15 – why the theme of the William Tell overture over and over again? There may be an answer to that question that a little research will reveal…

For any readers of this blog who are feeling a bit obsessive, all 15 in a row are on YouTube, conducted by Kirill Kondrashin. 10:39:53. A day well spent.