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Starts at 8:00 pm on Thursday, 10 May 2012
Bloch, Lukas Foss, Shostakovich
When Shostakovich composed his Tenth Symphony in 1953, almost a decade had gone by since he had last tackled a symphonic structure. His Ninth was written in 1945 at the end of the war and his even larger scale Eighth Symphony was completed in 1943.
The Tenth was also the first substantial orchestral piece to emerge from the Soviet Union in the freer cultural climate heralded by Stalin’s death in the spring of 1953. As such, its first performance (on 17 December 1953, in Leningrad) attracted particular attention in official and musicological circles, and the symphony became the subject of an animated three-day debate (on 29 and 30 March and 5 April 1954) at the Moscow branch of the Union of Soviet Composers.
Some commentators, regarding the symphony as “non-realistic” music, condemned its pervading aura of pessimism; others stressed that Soviet composers now had the right to be guided by their own artistic instincts, something that in the darkest years of Stalin’s dictatorship had barely been possible, though within months of his death the Party newspaper Pravda had been urging artists to strive for “independence, courage and experimentation.”
Amid these conflicting opinions of the Tenth Symphony the young composer, Andrey Volkonsky hit on an apt, compromise description: optimistic tragedy”.
This concert was recorded live in the Auckland Town Hall by Radio New Zealand
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