Peter Collins, South Wales Echo, July 21, 2010
IT was while I was enjoying a quiet pint during the interval of this gripping Welsh Prom concert that I eavesdropped on a lively conversation about the Symphony No 7, by Shostakovich.
Beer is about the only way I know to prepare for that symphony, too.
The symphony, known as Leningrad, occupied the whole of the second half of the concert.
As symphonies tend to do from time to time.
So, what of their lively conversation.
The thrust of the tete-a-tete was whether the massive work was Shostakovich’s nationalistic symbol of Russian resistance and defiance to Nazi totalitarianism, or a more general depiction and condemnation of totalitarianism, with the brutality of Stalin as its driving force. As always with Shostakovich it is an interesting but ultimately futile debate.
God, how incredibly fascinating. Did his music actively hate Nazis, or just passively hate them?
In its time, the symphony was extremely popular in both Russia and the West as a symbol of resistance and defiance to Nazi totalitarianism and militarism. As a condemnation of the German invasion...
Hmmm...that seems strangely familiar. Hey, wait a minute!
Nevertheless, it was fascinating to see which view conductor Thierry Fischer would take as he picked up his baton to lead BBC NOW.
Good call...let the conductor decide. So, which is it: resistance or condemnation?
It seemed to me that Fischer, who was in command of the music and the orchestra from start to finish, was inclined to view the opus as more of a general condemnation of evil.
Really? The symphony condemns evil in general? Not just Nazi totalitarianism, but all evil?