Shostakovich's Second and Eleventh Symphonies are both inspired by Russian revolutions. The Eleventh Symphony, "The Year 1905", marks the bloody revolution of its namesake year. It is an astonishingly atmospheric symphony, of cinematic breadth, especially the second movement which depicts the Bloody Sunday massacre in St Petersburg. Symphony No 2 was written to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution. Though it is a much shorter work than the Eleventh, clocking in at less than 20 minutes, it is by no means any less dramatic. Although dismissed as an experiment by the composer later in his career, it remains an important step in the development of one of history's greatest symphonists. Here Valery Gergiev, along with the Mariinsky Orchestra and Chorus, delivers definitive performances of both works.
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