>I have wondered if the appeal of Shostakovich's music can be attributed
>in part to the relative simplicity of his style and its direct communication
>of expression. For me, only in his 4th Symphony, or the 15th Quartet,
>did Shostakovich approach the depth of expression to be found in a work
>like Prokofiev's Third Symphony.
Shostakovich was a direct heir to Mahler, in both his expansiveness and
taste for the grotesque. The simplicity of style was something that he
needed to survive, I think. That 4th Symphony spent quite a few years
safely tucked away in a drawer. I find most of his symphonies powerful,
even the 9th, depending on how it is performed. It was not one that
Stalin appreciated, and its Johnny-come-marching-home element was in
what I call cognitive counterpoint to the listener's awareness that there
were a huge number of dead bodies left behind; I once attended a performance
by Penderecki that brought that out. The 14th (Babi Yar) is very moving;
there's a fine recording by Kami that outdoes what Kondrashin did, and
he was no slouch. I like the 1st and 5th. Also the middle two movements
of No. 7, as Bernstein recorded them the first time. And I recently
mentioned a strong performance of No. 10.
Now I'm going to have to go re-hear Prokofiev's Symphony No. 3.