Defying dictators: Soviet blockbusters given the St Petersburg Philharmonic treatment

St. Petersburg Philharmonic

The batonless Temirkanov summoned bombast in the first movement march and bassoons protested gruffly in the Allegretto. Muted violins and violas pined in the Largo, growing to a string climax that screamed anguish. And then that finale. No triumphalism here, but the repeated A, sawed 252 times on the strings, was played slowly, deliberately, obstinately. "Our business is rejoicing" indeed. This was a performance which cried out that freedom of expression cannot be crushed by brutal leaders.    

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