On 4 November 1943, a war-fatigued audience in Moscow heard the first performance of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Eighth Symphony. Unlike its predecessor, this was no rallying call-to-arms. It was masterpiece of despair, grotesquery and anger powered forward by music both grief-stricken in stillness and hurtling in paranoia. The piece was banned immediately.
Jukka-Pekka Saraste conducts Shostakovich’s denunciation of the futility of war alongside the lustrous songs by Alma Mahler with mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill. A UK premiere by Sebastian Fagerlund – a composer shepherding Finnish orchestral music into a thrilling new era – is the climax to a monumental, awe-inspiring trilogy of orchestral works.