Russia in the year 1953. After the October Revolution this was probably one of the most eventful epochs in the whole of the 20th century as far as social development and Art were concerned. When Stalin's reign of terror at last came to an end Shostakovich was able to realize his artistic ideas without fear of political persecution. And this is precisely the reason for regarding the premiere performance of his Tenth Symphony, in December 1953, as a gesture of freedom after years of discrimination. Shostakovich wanted his music to reflect human feelings and passions - and indeed the rugged first movement is filled with melancholy. Many biographers have identified a brutal portrait of the dictator Stalin in the strained mechanism and whip-lash rhythm of the following Allegro. The third and fourth movements take on a brighter character and are filled with song-like melody which leads to a splendid Finale. Herbert von Karajan and his Berlin orchestra made the present recording just a few years after the work's composition; even today it is still considered one of the very best performances of this unique work..
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