Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 6 & 15

Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 6 & 15

Conductor Gianandrea Noseda’s survey of Shostakovich’s symphonies with the London Symphony Orchestra began in 2018, four years before the Russian military invaded Ukraine. The composer’s conflict-ridden music has, Noseda believes, become even more sharply relevant in the period since. “The world is going through a new tense era,” he tells Apple Music Classical, “and Shostakovich’s music speaks to humanity because his music is itself the result of times of tension, including dictatorship (he lived under Stalin and other Soviet rulers), World War II, and the Cold War.” The seventh album in Noseda’s series pairs Symphonies Nos. 6 and 15, in powerful, vividly etched performances recorded live at the Barbican in London. “I think that Symphony No. 6, written in 1939, evokes many of the fears connected to the start of World War II,” Noseda comments. “Of course, the last movement is particularly flamboyant, but when Shostakovich wants to be joyful and extroverted, he’s often over the top, because there’s a tinge of irony and sarcasm belying his actual thoughts.” Symphony No. 15 dates from 32 years later, near the end of Shostakovich’s life. It represents, Noseda says, “the legacy of Shostakovich’s symphonic world,” and by quoting Wagner and Rossini takes the listener on a piecemeal “journey through the history of music.” Emotionally Symphony No. 15 has highly personal elements, including “percussion imitating the sound of hospital devices to which Shostakovich was attached when he composed this symphony” in its finale. It’s the more introverted moments in both symphonies, however, which particularly attract Noseda’s attention. “In the first movement of Symphony No. 6 and the second movement of Symphony No. 15, Shostakovich doesn’t try to please or to seduce,” Noseda explains. “Instead, he is completely himself without any kind of mask, without irony, without sarcasm, or any cynicism. This is unvarnished Shostakovich, and why I have a particular love for these two movements.”

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada