Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks - BRSO

Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 8

CD 900214 Schostakowitsch Symphonie Nr. 8 © BR-KLASSIK Label

To mark the 75th anniversary of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (BRSO) in 2024, the BR-KLASSIK label releases a live recording from 2006 with the Eighth Smyphony of Dmitri Shostakovich, conducted by his long-standing guest conductor Bernard Haitink.

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Bernhard Haitink would have turned 95 on 4 March 2024. The Dutch conductor and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra enjoyed a long and intensive artistic collaboration, which came to an abrupt end with Haitink’s death in October 2021.

As an interpreter of the symphonic repertoire, and especially that of the German-Austrian Late Romantic period, Haitink was held in high esteem throughout the world. With him, Dmitri Shostakovich’s symphonies were also always in the best of hands. Haitink’s driving principle was to make the sound architecture of a musical composition, with its complex interweaving, transparently audible; extreme sensitivity of sound was combined with a clearly structured interpretation of the score.

This recording of Shostakovich’s Eighth Symphony documents a concert given in September 2006 at Munich’s Philharmonie im Gasteig.

For Shostakovich’s contemporaries, educated in the spirit of Socialist Realism, it was clear that the Eighth Symphony had to have a programme and, even more specifically, a topical reference to current events. And at the time, there could hardly have been anything more topical than the recent, decisive turning point in the war in the form of the battle for Stalingrad. It is therefore hardly surprising that the Eighth Symphony, composed in less than nine weeks between July 2 and September 9, 1943, was also referred to as the “Stalingrad”. Under the pressure of circumstance, Shostakovich was obliged to develop an aesthetic of ambiguity, secret hidden meanings and abysmal irony that was almost without parallel in cultural history. This work also expresses the sheer compulsion under which a musical language in conformity with the system had to be created.

Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Bernard Haitink

Total Time: 64’47 min