Shostakovich’s music has a crucial place in Russian 20th century history, and these two of the composer’s masterworks are standard bearers of that legacy. Composed in the midst of the Soviet terror, the First Violin Concerto was based on musical sketches hidden by Shostakovich until the death of Stalin. After the dictator’s death, Shostakovich composed a musical portrait of him in the second movement of the Second Symphony: the second movement transports us into the midst of a march toward irremediable terror and unbridled violence, while the slow finale recalls the desolation of the prisoners of the Gulag. In contrast to Shostakovich’s fresh and vigorous Ninth, the Second Symphony—marked by despair and violence—is resolutely tragic.
Raised to the rank of Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2019 and honored as best classical artist at the Global Awards the same year, Nicola Benedetti presents here an exceptional performance of Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto. Under the baton of Gianandrea Noseda, the London Symphony Orchestra brings to life both the terror of the regime and the effervescence of a musical genius at the height of his powers.
London Symphony Orchestra
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra