One of the things that gives Shostakovich’s music its particular edge and fascination is the way the music sits on the boundary between being totally about itself – ideas, themes and their manipulation – and being about something totally outside the music, like a secret double-coded message of enforced public celebration and personal repression.
No work treads this ambiguous line more successfully than the Tenth Symphony, regarded as Shostakovich’s finest work. This live recording under Alexander Anissimov is admirable for its orchestral discipline and concentration, particularly in the brooding and extended first movement with some eloquent wind solos and in the quicksilver rapidity of the second.
In the last two movements Shostakovich introduces his own music motto (D, E flat, C, H) but leaves open the question of whether this introduces a personal topic or refers back to ideas in the first movement. Brilliant playing from tomorrow’s orchestra.