BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
30 Jan 2020, Glasgow City Halls
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BBC SSO 2019-20 Season Shostakovich Symphony No.5

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Shostakovich Symphony No.5
19:30 Thu 30 Jan 2020 Glasgow City Halls

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Art and politics have always co-existed – but it’s not as if Art has always been given much of a choice in the matter. Threatened in a terrifyingly public way by Stalin’s authorities, Shostakovich responded with a work that he called “a Soviet artist’s response to justified criticism” and his Fifth Symphony has divided critics ever since. But not audiences: the crowd at the first performance, in Leningrad in 1937, responded first with tears, and then with cheers. Michael Sanderling has a personal connection to this music: his father was one of Shostakovich’s greatest friends, so he’s ideally placed to peel back the layers of irony, drama and pitch-black humour that conceal the passionately human heart of this great 20th century symphony. First, though, the “saddest music in the world”: Barber’s ‘Adagio’ and Mahler’s ‘Kindertotenlieder’. The music of Gustav Mahler fascinated Shostakovich, and music doesn’t come any more sincere than this heart-rending cycle. Award-winning contralto Claudia Huckle performs it here: songs of anguish, it’s true, but also songs of a profound and undying love.

Prelude: 6.45pm in the Recital Room (free to ticket-holders, subject to seating availability): Professor Marina Frolova-Walker of Clare College, Cambridge, introduces Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony.

The concert will be recorded for future broadcast on BBC Radio 3.