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Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13 - Storgårds

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13 - Storgårds

Chandos  CHSA 5335

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Albert Dohmen (bass)
Estonian National Male Choir
BBC Philharmonic
John Storgårds (conductor)


John Storgårds’s acclaimed series of Shostakovich symphonies continues with this recording of Symphony No. 13. The BBC Philharmonic is joined by the bass-baritone Albert Dohmen and the Estonian National Male Choir. The symphony, subtitled ‘Babiy Yar’, caused a great deal of tension and controversy in the lead-up to its première, in December 1962 – not because of the music, but the poetry. Shostakovich had chosen to set Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s Babiy Yar. Ostensibly an outraged response to the lack of a memorial for the thousands of Jews murdered by the Nazis and dumped in a ravine near Kyiv, the poem implicitly criticised the anti-Semitism then still rife in the Soviet Union. Originally planned as a short cantata, the work grew in stature as Shostakovich chose additional poems by Yevtushenko for inclusion, finally settling on the form of a five-movement symphony. The tone of the poems was as near to being openly subversive as any Soviet literary material could be at the time without actually being banned by the authorities, but the eventual première was a triumph. Arvo Pärt’s De profundis was composed for male voices, organ, and percussion in 1980. Here we hear the composer’s later adaptation of the piece for male voices and chamber orchestra, from 2008. The short work is a perfect example of the style the composer termed ‘tintinnabuli’ and an aesthetic that others would later label ‘holy minimalism’.

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Comments (3)

Comment by DYB - April 19, 2024 (1 of 3)

One side-note to the description above about Babi Yar being outside Kyiv is that after the war, as the parameters of the city expanded, Babi Yar is now very much inside the city. I grew up about 15 walk from it in the 1980s.

Comment by hiredfox - April 28, 2024 (2 of 3)

There is extensive comment on this history linked to the recent Karabits recording of the 13th which by the way is outstanding.

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13 - Karabits

Comment by DYB - April 30, 2024 (3 of 3)

hiredfox> I completely agree on the Karabits recording - an outstanding performance. I am yet to hear this new one from Storgårds, but I'm generally a fan of his work so I'm looking forward to it.