Silvestrov’s Symphony is one of three to be presented in the first program of a three-part series (in February, April and June) showcasing some of the rarer Russian symphonies.
The Symphony no 1 of Gavriil Popov (19041972) is another revelation. It’s an astonishing work sharing similarities with, and said to have provided inspiration for, Shostakovich’s Symphony no 4. Popov’s work was premiered in March 1935, just months before the full onslaught of Stalin’s Terror and the Pravda editorial against Shostakovich.
The Symphony was subsequently banned by the Leningrad authorities as ‘reflecting the ideology of … classes hostile to us’ and was described as ‘formalist’ and ‘ideologically alien to the Soviet order’. However, since Stalinist repression had not yet reached its peak, the ban was overturned. The Symphony was rehabilitated but remained unplayed, being regarded as a political ‘hot potato’. It’s a disgrace that the narrow-mindedness of the Soviet era saw Popov’s Symphony languish in obscurity. Tragic and turbulent, this is an unforgettable symphony of immense expressive power.
This three-part series, to be broadcast in February, April and June, will be heard in Sunday Special beginning on 17 February at 3pm.
This article was featured in the February 2019 edition of the Fine Music Magazine. To become a subscriber, please click here, and gain access to many more informative pieces that are available in our magazines.