Beethoven and Shostakovich

London Symphony Orchestra/Gianandrea Noseda

Photo of Gianandrea Noseda in black suit

Gianandrea Noseda pits Shostakovich's deeply affecting poem of suffering against the fourth of Beethoven's piano concertos, a theatrical tour-de-force.

The last of Beethoven’s own works that he could perform before becoming totally deaf, the Fourth Piano Concerto is a proudly unique creation. Rather than have the soloist and orchestra co-operating and collaborating, Beethoven has them facing off against each other, with the orchestra bellowing in anger at times, 'like Orpheus confronting the shades of Hell' wrote E M Forster.

A vision of hell could also be ascribed to Shostakovich's Eighth Symphony; ‘an attempt to reflect the terrible tragedy of war’ the composer said, a war in which 27 million of his fellow Russians were killed. The fourth movement is possibly the most terrifying music Shostakovich ever wrote. We travel from darkness into light, yearning more for peace than for victory.

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