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Shostakovich Symphony No. 11 - The Times


02 May 2005
The Times
Rick Jones
5 Stars

Shostakovich's Symphony No 11, The Year 1905, mournfully depicts the events of the original Bloody Sunday, when the Tsar's troops opened fire on a demonstration and launched the Russian Revolution. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) brings the tragedy grippingly to life under the baton of Lazarev on this live recording from the Usher Hall in Edinburgh last year. The speed is urgent. It is January: the people march quickly for warmth. The icy opening Place Square, has the eerie piety of Orthodox chant. Muted trumpet and drum alternate with some nine political folk tunes that make up the thematic material of the symphony. The RSNO embraces these as warmly as if they knew the proper words like Shostakovich's 1957 Moscow audience. Number two is a beautiful, sad Jewish lilt rising from the bass. Number four, the scherzo's second allegro, pounds the cobbles like Stravinsky's sacrificial virgins, sexy and rhythmic, with greasy trombones leering through. Lazarev wings passion from the RSNO. They play with sweat-drenched ferocity and heart-tugging pathos. The disc curdles the blood and grieves for shabby, despotic politic. Shostakovich never knew an election.
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