Listeners with an ear for the symphonies of Shostakovich and Prokofiev must have noticed the similarities between their their respective fifth and sixth symphonies. Shostakovich wrote his Fifth Symphony as "A Soviet Composer's Reply to Just Criticism" after taking a pounding in Pravda (some say written by Stalin himself), for the "formalist", meaning too stylistically modern, music he had been composing previously. His Fifth, still his most popular symphony, is full of big tunes and optimism that made it an instant success, although the composer insisted later that its surface pleasures were a facade covering coded protest and anger.
PROKOFIEV: SymphonyNo.6inE-flat minor, Op. 111; Lieutenant Kije Suite, Op. 60; The Love for Three Oranges Symphonic Suite, Op. 33a. Andrei Bondarenko (baritone, in Kije), Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Andrew Litton. BIS super audio compact disc or digital download
But the symphony that followed was a very different. The Sixth begins with one of Shostakovich's most sombre symphonic movements, followed by two much shorter ones where the romping music full of hackneyed tunes makes little attempt to to hide its deep sarcasm.
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