Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Bernard Haitink
Shostakovich’s last symphony is an encounter between everything that is alienating to itself: Rossini, Wagner, twelve-tone, Bach, the ticking of life-support machines and an oblique illumination on his oeuvre. Not merely one epoch – the beautiful, true world of music floats by. With his last symphony, Shostakovich, who with his music was able to cause such wild turmoil, takes his time. He must have written it on the edge of eternity (which Stalinism would have liked to erase from human memory) – not, however, because of his illness, toward which he cultivated a sarcastic-stoical calmness. While writing his Fifteenth, his constant companion was a novel by Anton Chekhov: The black Monk, a phantom figure, visiting mankind as a Fata Morgana every 1000 years. The novel’s effect is similar to that of good music: everyone perceives it, everyone is impressed by it, but it is in reality immaterial, impossible to touch, yet comprehensible.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Bernard Haitink conductor