Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra Mark Wigglesworth, conductor
This is the seventh disc in Mark Wigglesworth’s complete cycle of Shostakovich’s symphonies and the fourth to feature the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. This partnership has gone from strength to strength, with their Symphony No. 13 (‘Babi Yar’) described as ‘probably the most convincing to have appeared in the West’ in International Record Review, and the coupling of Symphonies Nos 9 and 12 being designated a benchmark recording in BBC Music Magazine.
They now take on this huge work – it calls for an orchestra of 125 musicians and lasts well over an hour.
When Shostakovich began working on Symphony No.4, his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk had been a sensational success and the composer was the musical golden child of the Soviet Union. However, after Stalin himself went to see the opera, the newspaper Pravda described the musician as an enemy of the state. Suddenly Shostakovich's life was turned upside down, but he remained unbowed – much later in life he is reported as having said: ‘Instead of repenting I composed my Fourth Symphony.’