This is yet another release in the series of symphonies by Dmitri Shostakovich. The fifth programme includes Symphony No. 13, whose premiere performance was described by Moscow singer Galina Vishnevskaya as “… a breakthrough… A great victory of art over politics and the ideology of the party”.
The work was inspired by Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s poem “Babi Yar”, which was published in Literaturnaya Gazeta on 19 September 1961.
Shostakovich was shaken by the poem and began working on the symphony in March 1962. According to the composer’s words: “I originally wrote something which resembled a vocal-symphonic poem “Babi Yar”, based on the poems by Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Later on I decided to expand the work, by using other poems by the poet. […] All these poems were apparently disparate, but I united them by my music. Thus I wrote a symphony and not separate music pictures…”
The work includes five poems: “Babi Yar”,“Humour”, “In the Store”, “Fears” and “Career”. The poem “Fears” was written by Yevtushenko specifically for the symphony. The musical narrative leads the listener from tragedy and sorrow, through humour and satire, through praising the much suffered Russian woman, the sombre form of fear and finally the cautious career-seeker and the true knights of science and speech. All this is achieved by means of different music forms and vocal and instrumental techniques and masterful orchestration.
The recording for this release was again performed by the conductor Emil Tabakov and the Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra together with the bass Vladimir Petrov and the Bulgarian National Radio Male Choir.