- Symphony No. 2 in B flat major (To October), Op. 14
- Symphony No. 15 in A major, Op. 141
Shostakovich: Symphonies 2 & 15
At first glance, these two symphonies seem mismatched: what is the point of pairing the youthful, experimental "Symphony No. 2" with the mature and substantial "Symphony No. 15"? The dark sound world Shostakovich flirted with in the "Second"'s opening movement anticipates many later works, and some of the fragmentary ideas that pop out of this churning mass remained a part of Shostakovich's vocabulary throughout his life. Despite the forced proletarian chorus, the germinal nature of the "Symphony No. 2" becomes apparent when it is compared to the later symphonies. The "Symphony No. 15" doesn't suffer from the "Second"'s unfortunate rhetoric, and structurally, it follows symphonic form in a very transparent manner. Yet this is one of Shostakovich's most cryptic essays, as enigmatic through personal symbolism and habitual secrecy as the "Second" is vague through political necessity. Although the brittle playfulness and toy-shop antics in the first and third movements might suggest an old man's ironic recollections of childhood, the dirge of the second movement and the desolation of the finale suggest thoughts of last things. The Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra of Bratislava, led by Ladislav Slovák, offers clean and efficient playing and presents these mysterious pieces as written, leaving it for others to solve their riddles.
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