April 12, 2002

Confessions Sad and Sardonic: Shostakovich Recordings


The season in classical music has largely been one of consolidation. As institutions continue to sort out the music of the 20th century, their first priority seems to be ensuring that the relatively conservative masters from midcentury — Rachmaninoff, Strauss and Shostakovich — are firmly on board for the wild ride into the 21st.

Great Performers at Lincoln Center began a series devoted to Shostakovich in the fall by reviving its acclaimed theatrical gloss on the composer's biography, "The Noise of Time," with the Emerson String Quartet and the Théâtre de Complicité. To be sure, the growing fascination with Shostakovich appears to stem as much from the ambiguities and imponderables surrounding his life and career, which was given definitive shape in the shadow of Stalin, as from his music.

Lincoln Center picks up the thread of its series on Monday with a film presentation, "The War Symphonies: Shostakovich Against Stalin," at the Walter Reade Theater. Then the composer's great student and friend Mstislav Rostropovich conducts three Shostakovich concerts — including three great symphonies, Nos. 7 ("Leningrad"), 8 and 11 ("The Year 1905") — with the London Symphony Orchestra on April 21, 22 and 24 at Avery Fisher Hall.

So the classical-music critics of The New York Times are providing a backdrop of sorts by listing their favorites among the many Shostakovich recordings now available. (Insofar, that is, as availablility can be pinned down in the chaotic classical-record market of the moment: availability here is determined by the Schwann/Opus, Amazon.com and CDNow catalogs as well as what can be found in major New York record stores.) CD's range in price from $11 to $15 for one CD; $32 for a two-CD set; $81 for five CD's and $41 for six CD's. -- JAMES R. OESTREICH


SYMPHONIES NOS. 5 AND 9. New York Philharmonic, conducted by Leonard Bernstein (Sony Classical SMK 61841).

"LADY MACBETH OF THE MTSENSK DISTRICT." Galina Vishnevskaya, Nicolai Gedda; London Philharmonic, conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich (EMI Classics 7 49955 2; two CD's).

CELLO CONCERTO NO. 1. Pieter Wispelwey, cellist; Australian Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Richard Tognetti (with Kodaly's Solo Sonata; Channel Classics CCS 15398).

STRING QUARTETS NOS. 7, 8 AND 9. Brodsky Quartet (Apex 8573 89093 2).

PIANO TRIO NO. 2. Martha Argerich, pianist; Gidon Kremer violinist; Mischa Maisky, cellist (with Tchaikovsky's Piano Trio and Peter Kiesewetter's Tango; Deutsche Grammophon 289 459 326-2).

After all the distress, sadness and frenzy of Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony, the final movement ends, famously, in an outburst of cosmic affirmation. Many listeners have found the affirmation forced. Their suspicions would seem to have been confirmed with the posthumous publication in 1979 of "Testimony," the composer's interesting but in some parts contested memoirs. This 1937 symphony was written in response to the denunciation of Shostakovich by Stalinist cultural committees the previous year, and the rejoicing is indeed forced. Shostakovich said: "It's as if someone were beating you with a stick and saying, `Your business is rejoicing, your business is rejoicing.' "

I understood none of this when I was an adolescent enthralled with Leonard Bernstein's 1959 recording with the New York Philharmonic. Actually, I doubt that Bernstein understood it either. He was too intensely emotional. Irony was not his thing. Other conductors bring more ambiguity to the work. Bernstein takes everything at face value. But the depth of feeling, the awestruck respect for the music he conveys, not to mention the brilliant playing he elicits from the orchestra, still make his account special. It was my first favorite Shostakovich recording. It's now available on a Sony disc, coupled with a vibrant performance of the Ninth Symphony.

The work that got Shostakovich into trouble with the Soviets was his gritty 1934 opera "Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District," which now stands as a hallmark of 20th-century opera. I cannot imagine any recording ever topping the 1978 account conducted by the composer's student, colleague and champion Mstislav Rostropovich, with an excellent cast headed by the radiant soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, and the London Philharmonic. Though complete opera recordings slip in and out of availability, EMI would not dare withdraw this one.

Much as I admire Mr. Rostropovich's recording of the Cello Concerto No. 1 (just one of several major works he cajoled Shostakovich into composing for him), I am taken with a 1999 recording by Pieter Wispelwey and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Richard Tognetti. This lithe, incisive performance makes the music seem more intriguingly modern, and a bit stranger, than you might have thought it.

The 15 string quartets are now seminal works of the repertory. Though mostly adhering to Neo-Classical structures, each quartet is such an affecting personal confession that you almost feel uncomfortable listening. It's like reading someone's private journals. If you don't want to splurge on a complete set (the Emerson Quartet's is very fine), try a recent release on the Apex label, which offers the excellent Brodsky Quartet in Nos. 7, 8 and 9, three amazing works.

To hear superb musicians inspiring the best from one another in Shostakovich, check out the live 1998 recording of the great Piano Trio in E minor by the pianist Martha Argerich, the violinist Gidon Kremer and the cellist Mischa Maisky. This is endlessly imaginative music-making. And in the final dance movement, in which Shostakovich quotes (invents?) Jewish melodies, Ms. Argerich, a hot-blooded South American, reveals her hidden Hebraic soul.


SYMPHONY NO. 8. Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, conducted by Bernard Haitink (Decca 425 071-2).

SYMPHONY NO. 13. Sergei Leiferkus, baritone; New York Choral Artists; New York Philharmonic, conducted by Kurt Masur (Teldec 4509-90848-2).

STRING QUARTETS (15), OTHER WORKS. Emerson String Quartet (Deutsche Grammophon 289 463 284-2; five CD's).

PIANO CONCERTOS (2), PIANO QUINTET. Yefim Bronfman, pianist; Thomas Stevens, trumpeter; Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen; Juilliard String Quartet (Sony Classical SK 60677).

VIOLIN CONCERTO NO. 1, CELLO CONCERTO NO. 1. David Oistrakh, violinist; New York Philharmonic, conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos. Mstislav Rostropovich, cellist; Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Eugene Ormandy (Sony Classical MHK 63327).

Shostakovich was something of a throwback. As 20th-century composers go, his devotion to the classical forms, not to mention tonal relationships, was unusual. But if his sensibility and language were essentially Romantic, his symphonies and quartets, with their tart harmonic language and their almost picturesque evocations of psychic pain and turmoil, are unmistakably of the 20th century. They have also come to represent the atmosphere of the midcentury Soviet Union. The fact that biographers continue to dispute the degree to which Shostakovich either rebelled against or accommodated the regime itself reflects the ambiguities of the time.

Particularly compelling are the works Shostakovich composed during World War II, and for me one of the most moving is the Eighth Symphony, composed in 1943. The Eighth has much in common with the more popular Fifth Symphony, not least the characteristically arching, angular string lines; the repeating chordal blocks (sometimes just strings, sometimes with hefty brass support), used almost like a vast orchestral club; and the brisk trumpet and percussion figures, military in character but with an acid melodic accent.

What the Eighth also has, though, is a finale that hits its mark not with explosive bursts or driving rhythms (although they are heard early in the movement), but with the quietly melancholy wind and string writing of the final pages. Bernard Haitink's 1982 recording with what was then his orchestra captures the work's harrowing energy vividly.

The Symphony No. 13, "Babi Yar," from 1962, also draws more power from its subdued sections than from its outgoing ones, but its choral and solo vocal components — settings of Yevtushenko poems — make it an entirely different kind of work. Kurt Masur's Shostakovich performances have been among the highlights of his tenure with the New York Philharmonic, and his recording was drawn from live performances in 1993. The performance is framed by a pair of bonuses: Yevgeny Yevtushenko reading "Babi Yar" in Russian and "The Loss" in English.

The symphonies, as grand public statements, were more closely scrutinized than the string quartets, which have often been described as Shostakovich's more personal and unvarnished responses to his world. The 15 works are an extraordinary cycle, as wrenching as the symphonies, and in some ways richer and more consistent. The Emerson Quartet's traversal is beautifully played, and eloquently conveys the (usually) dark, emotionally raw qualities of these works.

Shostakovich's concertos can be as melancholy as the symphonies and quartets, but by their nature they are also more lyrical. Now and then they are even bright and playful: listen to the second and last movements of the First Violin Concerto or the finale of the First Piano Concerto. Yefim Bronfman gives zesty, sharply articulated and suitably muscular accounts of the two piano concertos, and the Piano Quintet in a collaboration with the Juilliard String Quartet. And although the First Violin Concerto and the First Cello Concerto can be had in sparkling digital sound, there is a special incandescence in the premiere recordings of those works, by David Oistrakh (in mono, from 1956) and Mstislav Rostropovich (in stereo, from 1959), brought together on a Sony Masterworks Heritage disc. Don't let the age of these recordings stop you; the transfers are exquisite.


STRING QUARTETS (15), OTHER WORKS. Emerson String Quartet (Deutsche Grammophon 289 463 284-2; five CD's).

STRING QUARTETS (15); PIANO QUINTET, PIECES FOR STRING OCTET. Borodin Quartet and others (Melodiya 40711; six CD's).

PRELUDES AND FUGUES (24). Vladimir Ashkenazy, pianist (Decca 466 066-2; two CD's).

"LADY MACBETH OF THE MTSENSK DISTRICT." Galina Vishnevskaya, Nicolai Gedda; London Philharmonic, conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich (EMI Classics 7 49955 2; two CD's).

SYMPHONY NO. 15. London Symphony, conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich (Teldec 74560).

We divide Beethoven into periods, Schoenberg into tonal and otherwise. With Shostakovich the division is between public and private. Any knowledge of Shostakovich on CD starts with the string quartets, 15 items that record a kind of secret diary stretched over a mature life. They can be horrifyingly sad and wickedly funny, but they speak in a language distinct to the composer. There is no other music like it.

Indulge yourself, and own two recordings. The Emerson String Quartet performances are also released singly by Deutsche Grammophon, and they are wonders of clarity and intense musicality: the Emerson lets the secret Shostakovich speak to the world. No one will quite equal the fineness of these performances, but the Borodin Quartet players have a little of the dirt of Mother Russia between their toes. The blood connection is palpable.

To grasp Shostakovich's connection with a larger world of tradition, listen to the Preludes and Fugues for Piano. Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier" was the model, but Shostakovich's adventures into small dramas and intricate counterpoint are completely his own. The sturdy Vladimir Ashkenazy offers them on Decca CD's.

Here and elsewhere, the shrinkages in the recording business narrow choices considerably, but evidently available as representatives of the public Shostakovich are two items conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich. One is the opera "Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District," an effective tragicomedy and a lurid hymn to human sleaze. (This was the piece that got the composer in deep trouble with Supreme Soviet Music Critic Stalin in the mid-1930's.) The recording features (not surprisingly) Mr. Rostropovich's wife, Galina Vishnevskaya.

The busy cellist-conductor also leads the London Symphony in the Symphony No. 15, written in 1971, when a shift in politics was slowly allowing the public and private Shostakovich to bleed together.


SYMPHONIES NOS. 5 AND 9. New York Philharmonic, conducted by Leonard Bernstein (Sony Classical SMK 61841).

SYMPHONIES NOS. 5 AND 9. Leningrad Philharmonic, conducted by Yevgeny Mravinsky; Czech Philharmonic, conducted by Zdenek Kosler (Le Chant du Monde PR 7250 085).

SYMPHONY NO. 10, "THE BOLT" EXCERPTS. Leningrad Philharmonic, conducted by Yevgeny Mravinsky; Czech Philharmonic, conducted by Gennady Rozhdestvensky (Le Chant du Monde PR 7250 053).

SYMPHONY NO. 15, "FROM JEWISH FOLK POETRY." Elisabeth Soderstrom, soprano, and others; London Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, conducted by Bernard Haitink. (Decca 425 069-2).

"SONG OF THE FORESTS," "THE SUN SHINES OVER OUR MOTHERLAND," "THE NOSE" SUITE. Soloists; Cologne Radio Chorus and Symphony, conducted by Michail Jurowski (Capriccio 10 779).

Many Shostakovichian paradoxes are knotted up within the Fifth Symphony. Always explained as a piece the composer was forced to write, it is always admired as a work of tremendous personal authority. Ostensibly direct in expression, with strong links to Russian music of the 19th century, it is fathomless in its ironies.

Leonard Bernstein and Yevgeny Mravinsky, both at peak power, show some of the possibilities. Bernstein's performance is passionately lyrical; the two slower movements, the first and the third, are long songs, led by forward, gleaming strings articulating in a vocal manner. Spots of other colors are generously embraced, and the New York Philharmonic's wind soloists of nearly 50 years ago are superb.

Mravinsky, leading the Leningrad Philharmonic, offers not one voice but many, in two senses. With him the music is much more a dialogue, even a tussle, of contrary motifs and directions, while the expression is more general, national. Where Bernstein projects the third movement as a Mahlerian adagio, Mravinsky, taking it a little faster and bringing out its Russian clichés, suggests the lament of an entire people, figured in the oboe solo as a bird's song over a bleak and shattered landscape. The sound is also a lot colder, and the concert recording places the orchestra at a greater distance, not inappropriately.

Made in 1959 (Bernstein) and 1967 (Mravinsky), these recordings long predated the disputed evidence of Shostakovich's "Testimony" that he wrote the finale with the rod of official censure on his back, but in both of them the ending sounds forced, a rude shock of reality after the skyward vision of the harp solo. Mravinsky is especially intense here, screwing up the tension and keeping it steady, in the dissonance that glares against the bombast.

Nine years later, in the 10th Symphony, Mravinsky tells something of the same story. The brief scherzo is again doubly alarming, in its military might and in its parody of military might. There are more passages of ferocious tightening, more sequences where the orchestra seems to be at war with itself, even another oboe bird (in the introduction to the finale). But the allegro close this time pops up as a joke that gets taken seriously. This is, once more, a very Russian tragedy.

Death is more general, and the haunted 15th Symphony, the composer's farewell, has a fine, defiant and somber performance from the Concertgebouw Orchestra under Bernard Haitink in a recording made in 1979, when the work was still recent. The finale moves seamlessly away from, back into and to one side of the grim pronouncement from Wagner, which is always in the background, an idea that will not go away, until the music rides off with a soft clatter of bones. Haitink makes the closest care and attention sound like serenity, and the work is all the more moving for not being pushed.

The cantatas Shostakovich wrote in the closing years of Stalin's rule are normally dismissed as music made to order, but the Capriccio recording suggests that there is more to them: real patriotism and, again, the undertow of grief. Still, the most startling music here is the suite from the opera "The Nose," a major work that sorely needs a new complete recording.


STRING QUARTETS (15); PIANO QUINTET, PIECES FOR STRING OCTET. Borodin Quartet and others (Melodiya 40711; six CD's).

SYMPHONY NO. 10, "THE BOLT" EXCERPTS. Leningrad Philharmonic, conducted by Yevgeny Mravinsky; Czech Philharmonic, conducted by Gennady Rozhdestvensky (Le Chant du Monde PR 7250 053).

"LADY MACBETH OF THE MTSENSK DISTRICT." Galina Vishnevskaya, Nicolai Gedda; London Philharmonic, conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich (EMI Classics 7 49955 2; two CD's).

"THE NOSE," "THE GAMBLERS." Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra of the Moscow Chamber Opera, conducted by Gennady Rozhdestvensky (Melodiya 60319; two CD's).

VIOLIN CONCERTO NO. 1, CELLO CONCERTO NO. 1. David Oistrakh, violinist; New York Philharmonic, conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos. Mstislav Rostropovich, cellist; Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Eugene Ormandy (Sony Classical MHK 63327).

Shostakovich was an enfant terrible who retained something of the enfant, bewildered and petulant behind his owlish glasses, punished at random for invented crimes (the dread "formalism") by mercurial, all-powerful authorities. He alternated between trying desperately to please (in paeans to the party line) and trying to see what he could get away with, which, indeed, he had been testing since his earliest works, drawing from a teacher disapproving observations about "the grotesque." That grotesque element, parodistic, lurks beneath the surface of many of his compositions, hinting at subversion, eluding precise definition, one color in a rich palette that, however you define it, was always eminently, even fallibly, human.

The 15 string quartets are one of the cornerstones of his output, and the Borodin Quartet's performances have a warmth, vitality and clarity that make them clear standouts to my ear. Of the 15 symphonies, the other cornerstone, a seminal recording has ducked out of the catalog: the premiere of "Babi Yar," the 13th Symphony, in 1962. Kirill Kondrashin conducts, and a hush falls as the powerful sung symphony, one of Shostakovich's least enigmatic works, hits home.

There remains in print an embarrassment of riches. A complete listing should include the Fourth (Ormandy), the Fifth and the Seventh; my choice falls, this week, on Mravinsky's 10th, despite its lousy sound (the Prague audience coughing up a storm), because the conductor, who led the premiere of the work and of many other Shostakovich symphonies, brings to it a particular fire, articulateness and identification.

Shostakovich's greatest opera, "Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District," was a watershed in the composer's career for all the wrong reasons — proscribed by the authorities, it nearly leveled that career — and it endures for all the right ones: strong characters, dramatic construction and superb music. Mstislav Rostropovich's 1978 recording of the original, 1934 version features the great Galina Vishnevskaya, as Katerina Ismailova, and Nicolai Gedda as a resounding Sergei, the handsome but crude peasant for whose love she kills her husband. Ms. Vishnevskaya is a little past her prime here; nonetheless, I've never heard this opera sung better.

Earlier and brasher, "The Nose" is, rather than a grand opera, a biting social satire, emphasizing caricature rather than character. But it is a fine piece of work, exuberant, "grotesque" and effective. As a bonus, the Rozhdestvensky recording with the Moscow Chamber Opera also includes "The Gamblers," a fragment based, like "The Nose," on a Gogol work, which the composer abandoned because of its growing length but which contains some fine music.

Finally, the premiere recordings of violin and cello concertos, performed by the musicians for whom they were written, David Oistrakh and Mr. Rostropovich, under Mitropoulos and Ormandy, are among the great recordings of the 20th century.


SYMPHONIES (15). London Symphony, National Symphony, Moscow Academic Symphony, conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich (Teldec 17046; 12 CD's).

STRING QUARTETS (15). Fitzwilliam String Quartet (Decca/London 455 776-2; six CD's).

STRING QUARTETS (15), OTHER WORKS. Emerson String Quartet (Deutsche Grammophon 289 463 284-2; five CD's).

"LADY MACBETH OF THE MTSENSK DISTRICT." Galina Vishnevskaya, Nicolai Gedda; London Philharmonic, conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich (EMI Classics 7 49955 2; two CD's).

PRELUDES AND FUGUES (24). Tatiana Nikolayeva, pianist (with Mendelssohn preludes and fugues; Melodiya 19849; three CD's).

Shostakovich wrote a lot of music, but the core is the 15 symphonies and the 15 string quartets. All of them, because while they vary in mood and importance it is as cycles that they make their most telling impression and stake Shostakovich's claim as one of the greats.

With the symphonies, I prefer unbridled passion to careful tidiness, however scrupulous and respectful: like Brahms, Shostakovich was a Romantic working within classical symphonic forms, which made him seem outdated in the mid-20th century (ditto Brahms in the mid-to-late 19th century, for that matter) and makes him seem prescient today.

The three great Shostakovich conductors have been Yevgeny Mravinsky (who introduced many of these symphonies but whose few modern recordings seem mostly to be out of print), Leonard Bernstein (who never played or recorded all of them) and Mstislav Rostropovich (who did). So Mr. Rostropovich is the choice for the cycle, and an easy choice he is. His technique has been questioned, and the National Symphony of Washington, which appears on most of these discs, is not of the top rank. Still, the intensity and authenticity cannot be denied. Of Bernstein's Shostakovich recordings, the 1959 New York Philharmonic version of the Fifth, recorded at Symphony Hall in Boston, is the one to have, still a galvanizing experience.

With the string quartets, the choice is richer. For me, it comes down to the British Fitzwilliam String Quartet, the first to record the cycle (and to introduce it to New York) more than 20 years ago, and the Emerson String Quartet. Both versions are top-notch: the Fitzwilliam leaner and perhaps more stylish and focused; the Emerson brilliantly played and recorded, gutsy and emotional. The Emerson is easier to find today.

Beyond the two cycles, there is Shostakovich's opera "Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District," which Valery Gergiev and his Kirov forces will get around to soon enough, no doubt, but which for now is best (and admirably) served by Mr. Rostropovich's recording with his wife, Galina Vishnevskaya, and Nicolai Gedda.

Finally, we have the 24 Preludes and Fugues for Piano (Op. 87), a magisterial exercise mostly inspired by Bach but with an aura of Chopin, the truest expression of Shostakovich's keyboard personality. Keith Jarrett has delivered a sharp, fleet, vigorous account. But for Russian soul, the second version by Tatiana Nikolayeva, for whom this music was composed, from 1987 on the Soviet Melodiya label, is the one to have (not her third version, on Hyperion, even slower and recorded with a lot of echo).

James R. Oestreich

SYMPHONY NO. 11. Leningrad Philharmonic, conducted by Yevgeny Mravinsky (Praga PR 256 018).

SYMPHONY NO. 7. St. Petersburg Philharmonic, conducted by Yuri Temirkanov (RCA Red Seal 90926-62548-2).

STRING QUARTET NO. 8. Kronos Quartet (with various other works; Nonesuch 79242).

"THE EXECUTION OF STEPAN RAZIN," SYMPHONY NO. 6. Russian State Symphonic Capella, Russian State Symphony, conducted by Valery Polyansky (Chandos CHAN 9813).

PRELUDES AND FUGUES (24). Vladimir Ashkenazy (Decca 466 066-2; two CD's).

Any extended survey of classical recordings these days has to begin with a lament for the treasures not available. In the case of Shostakovich, the treasures begin with the recordings of Yevgeny Mravinsky, which are represented only haphazardly in the current catalog. Mravinsky was instrumental in putting Shostakovich before the public, conducting the premieres of several symphonies and important performances of others.

A fine example of his work is the Praga version of the compelling 11th Symphony ("The Year 1905"), taken from a Czech Radio broadcast of 1967. Mravinsky and his great orchestra are mesmeric in the opening slow movement, generally electrifying thereafter. More adventurous listeners might also try another, more tightly wound version, on Russian Disc. It derives from a performance in Leningrad in 1957, four days after the work's premiere, in Moscow. The playing is often scrappy, and audience coughs undercut quieter passages, but the performance conveys a real sense of occasion.

Yuri Temirkanov has proved himself a worthy successor to Mravinsky in St. Petersburg, and an excellent conductor of Shostakovich. Nowhere is Mr. Temirkanov's affinity more evident than in the mighty Seventh Symphony ("Leningrad") of 1941, which he has rousingly conducted in New York several times, most recently last month, with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall. The RCA version is a fine representation of his broad, sweeping approach, recorded with a dynamic range so wide that if you can hear the beginning of the first movement's long crescendo and you don't pull back for the climax, you may blow out your windows.

The Eighth String Quartet of 1960 is indispensable Shostakovich, an astonishing model of introspection. For that matter, several other quartets are also indispensable, and I second the general recommendation of the Emerson String Quartet performances from Deutsche Grammophon made elsewhere on this page. But the Kronos Quartet's version, on its album "Black Angels," still holds my allegiance, largely because of the context. The quartet is juxtaposed with music by George Crumb (the title work), Thomas Tallis and others: works that have nothing in common except an ability to haunt the listener.

Neither should anyone be without Rudolf Barshai's arrangement of the Eighth Quartet as a chamber symphony. In the absence of Barshai's own recordings, I recommend Mariss Janson's recording on EMI; the Vienna Philharmonic's unidiomatic playing of Shostakovich matters less in this work for strings than in the accompanying Fifth Symphony.

Why the clangorous "Execution of  Stepan Razin," set to a text by Yevgeny Yevtushenko in 1964, is not performed more has long been a mystery to me. It is Shostakovich at his juiciest. Valery Polyanski does it justice on Chandos.

Vladimir Ashkenazy offers a splendid version of the Bachian Preludes and Fugues of 1951. He also makes the connection to another Shostakovich-related festival next February: at Carnegie Hall, Mr. Ashkenazy will conduct the Czech Philharmonic in "Music and Dictatorship: Russia Under Stalin." Shostakovich, happily, is here to stay.

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company

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