Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dmitri Shostakovich: Complete Chronological Catalogue

"Why is Dmitri Shostakovich the worst composer of the XXth century? Because he is the worst imitator of the twentieth century, imitator of Prokofiev and of Mahler and of Satie and of whoever else's scores he'd lay his paws on; and because his imitations are of poor quality, coarse, vulgar, thick, unimaginative, repetitive and narrow-minded: an artificious world he fabricated, imitated of the nineteenth century, in the image of the artificious society constructed by the Bolshevists."

"You have successfully described John Williams!!!" - Best DSCH joke.

"I think that it is clear to everyone what happens in the Fifth. The rejoicing is forced, created under threat, as in [Mussorgsky's] Boris Godunov. It's as if someone were beating you with a stick and saying, 'Your business is rejoicing, your business is rejoicing,' and you rise, shaky, and go marching off, muttering, 'Our business is rejoicing, our business is rejoicing.' What kind of apotheosis is that? You have to be a complete oaf not to hear that." - Testimony

This playlists collects Shostakovich's Op. 1-147, sorted by number, as well as important works without opus number, inserted to their approximate chronological positions. The latter includes: Jazz Suite No. 1, Suite for Variety Orchestra, Anti-Formalist Rayok, and some early pieces for piano and string quartet. All chamber symphonies arranged from the string quartets are also included.

Under the premise of only using recordings that are available on both Spotify UK and USA, my choices were limited, nevertheless I managed to sort out a list of great Shostakovich recordings: Haitink's 4th on CSO Resound, Bernstein's 5th with NYPO (helter-skelter tempo), Previn's 8th with LSO, Rostropovich's 14th with his wife Galina Vishnevskaya as the soprano, and Ormandy's 15th with The Philadelphia Orchestra. For the string quartets (press Ctrl/CMD+F and input string quartet to browse), I put in more than 10 different ensembles, including Beethoven Quartet who premiered most of these quartets. Vengerov's recording of Violin Concerto No.1 is not on Spotify USA, so I "settled" for David Oistrakh.

Here's the Spotify playlist: Dmitri Shostakovich: Complete Chronological Catalogue (873 tracks, total time: 2 days) Press Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse in album view. See list of works here. For beginners, check out this Naxos compilation first: Shostakovich - A Portrait. In the Composer As Pianist playlist you can find more recording of this "honorable mention" winner at the 1st Chopin Competition.

By the way: 1, the French composers series is not over, I just feel like taking a break. 2, New Google+ page for this blog.


  1. I totally disagree, both about DSCH and about John Williams. I prefer 1 minute of John Williams' music rather than the whole works of some so-called "avant-garde" composers of the 20th century.

    1. You are an idiot. Please die.
      The reason you prefer John Williams to Shostakovich is because you an uncultured dimwit.
      Shostakovich was capable of taking a musical idea and creating something interesting, whether a string quartet, symphony or concerto. The music never stops moving and it never loses interest. John Williams, on the other hand, though also capable of creating gorgeous and memorable themes, takes his one musical idea and does nothing with it other than modulating to a new, or minor key. He never incorporates other ideas and is lucky that the movie can distract from the monotony of his mediocre orchestration and poor use of the theme.
      Movie music is the ‘pop’ of Classical Music. It’s usually beautiful and catchy, but actually also quite boring.
      Shostakovich is world renowned and certainly stands on the same pedestal as Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky (the list goes on).
      He has an instantly recognisable sound of his own and his music is full of depth and meaning. Show some respect.

  2. I think there's nothing wrong with imitating, or repackaging other composers' musical language, that's what most classical composers and all pop musicians do. But personally I can't take John Williams, he ruined Indiana Jones for me, next time I will try to watch it with a Stockhausen soundtrack...

    Avant-garde music, by definition, is not for mass distribution, thus should not to be compared with Star Wars.

  3. how could anyone go by 'Testimony' written by a person who talked with Shostakovich only once or twice in his life?!

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