Shostakovich explicitly stated that he wanted the Symphony - and in particular it’s first movement - to be a monument over the 100.000 Jews slaughtered at a ravine called Babi Yar outside of Kiev in 1941. Not just a monument, however: the Symphony was also intended as an indictment against the anti-Semitism that had been brought to its height during the Nazi era, but which also flourished in post-war Soviet Union, with the result that Babi Yar and other atrocities were kept secret by the authorities. This silence was deeply upsetting to Shostakovich, and when he read Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s poem Babi Yar, he decided to set it to music. ‘I cannot not write it!’, he said to a friend. Shostakovich had originally only intended to set this one poem by Yevtushenko, but deciding to create a larger-scaled work he chose four more texts for what was to become a symphony in five movements.
With Netherlands Radio Choir and Jan-Hendrik Rootering, bass.
Music Web International: Recording of the year 2006; Classics Today 10/10, highest rating.