Under Andris Nelsons, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra presents works by Marius Flothuis, Richard Strauss, and Shostakovich. With his Cantus Amoris, the ensemble marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Flothuis, who was their artistic director for twenty years until the mid-1970s. Next up is the Oboe Concerto by Richard Strauss, one of the last works by the great German composer, overcome by nostalgia for an irretrievably lost world in the wake of the Second World War.
Written in 1937, twenty years after the October Revolution, Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony seems to have been born out of a more accessible style than much of his previous output. The work was supported by the Leningrad Union of Composers and met a triumphant reception the following autumn, with its emotional heft, prodigious strength and touches of humor. The final movement takes on the character of a march—does this represent Shostakovich's optimism, or rather an ironic nod to state oppression? In the posthumously published memoir Testimony (dubiously attributed to the composer), he is reported to have written, "The rejoicing is forced, created under threat, as in Boris Godunov. It's as if someone were beating you with a stick and saying, 'Your business is rejoicing, your business is rejoicing,' and you rise, shaky, and go marching off, muttering, 'Our business is rejoicing, our business is rejoicing.'"