Shostakovich wanted his music to reflect human feelings and passions – and indeed the rugged first movement is filled with melancholy. Many biographers have identified a brutal portrait of the dictator Stalin in the strained mechanism and whip-lash rhythm of the following Allegro. The third and fourth movements take on a brighter character and are filled with song-like melody which leads to a splendid Finale.
Herbert von Karajan and his Berlin orchestra made the present recording just a few years after the work’s composition; even today it is still considered one of the very best performances of this unique work.
Recording: November 1966 at Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, by Günter Hermanns and Hans Weber
Production: Otto Gerdes
2. Satz: Allegro
4. Satz: Andante – Allegro