Symphony Marathon begins in London to Mark 100 Years of Shostakovich (16.10.2005)

On 15 and 16 October at London's Barbican Hall Valery Gergiev opened a project to commemorate 100 years since the birth of Dmitry Shostakovich that will culminate in 2006. The project will see the world's leading orchestras perform all fifteen of the composer's symphonies at the Barbican Hall under the baton of Maestro Gergiev by the end of 2006.

At the first concerts in the series, Valery Gergiev conducted the London Symphony Orchestra (of which he will become Principal Conductor in 2007) in performances of Shostakovich's Seventh and Eighth Symphonies. Here is the review of the Independent music critic:

"Valery Gergiev breathed with this music, merely through the fluttering vibrato of his fingers. In the epic, war-torn Eighth Symphony Gergiev created a sense of space and atmosphere and colour that dug deep into the subtext of the piece. Bass-lines were unfathomable; high-lying, piccolo-flecked violins were so taut as to be ready to snap in an instant.

This is music of unremitting intensity, music that almost never relaxes. It is the music of fear and sorrow, fear tangible here in the seismic eruptions of solo percussion, in the shudder of a triple-forte string tremolando evaporating in an instant to a barely audible shiver. At such moments it was possible not to believe one's own ears.

…The dynamic and emotional range of this performance was colossal. But what really left a lasting impression were the shadowy recesses of the inner movements, music quite unlike anything else in Shostakovich. The trio of the scherzo – a mad Mahlerian waltz; the fractured wind chorale of the slow movement eventually torn from the strings to become something all too human.

It's a long road home to the final blaze of C major in this symphony, but Gergiev and the LSO really earned it for all of us. Stunning". (Edward Seckerson. Gergiev, Barbican, London Review // "The Independent". 18.10.2005)