Shostakovich: Festive Overture and Symphony No.5
SIGCD135 | September 2008 release
Shostakovich’s Symphony No.5 is one of the 20th century’s most popular classical pieces, its immediate success greeting the composer’s rehabilitation as a truly great Soviet artist. A dramatic struggle between hope and despair, the music mirrors Shostakovich’s fraught relationship with the regime.
Conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy works this ambivalence, maintaining the tension and sense of foreboding throughout, from the cellos’ dark opening to the deceptively triumphant finale.
By contrast, Festive Overture is one of Shostakovich’s liveliest works, which he originally composed – in just three days – for a concert to commemorate the anniversary of the October Revolution.
Ashkenazy captures “both a sense of occasion and a good-natured playfulness” (Music Web) in this upbeat piece full of joie de vivre.