Soviet Retro Pop

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Milan Horvat conducts the Zagreb Philharmonic in two “light” Shostakovich symphonies, nos. 1 & 9. The 9th, from 1945, is a striking departure from the composer’s 7th and 8th Symphonies, with their brash wartime marches and aura of annihilation and oblivion. On the sleeve, the playful 9th is described as a “chamber orchestration”. You don’t think “jovial” when talking about Russian music of the twentieth century, and one critic lambasted Shostakovich for “failing to reflect the true spirit of the Soviet people”. A hallucinogenic sleeve has Shosta mouthing a multi-colored cloud of birds, workers and very Russian spires. It’s almost too retro. Almost.

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