Larry Weinstein - Shostakovich Against Stalin The War Symphonies (2005) [DVD9 NTSC]
Actors: Valery Gergiev, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Flora Litvinova, Graham Haley, Dmitri Shostakovich
Directors: Larry Weinstein
Writers: Larry Weinstein, David New, Gemma van Zeventer, Solomon Volkov
Producers: Barbara Willis Sweete, Danny Irom, Eeva-Kaisa Nojonen
Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Import
Language: English, Russian
Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Number of discs: 1
DVD Release Date: November 8, 2005
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This DVD presents Larry Weinstein's award - winning film 'Shostakovich against stalin', Musical response.Described by the composer as his ''tombstones'', simphonies 4 to 9 represented the composer's waepons against Stalin's tyranny, and remain powerful testimony to a great artist's struggle against oppression. Shot on location in St Petersburg and Moscow, the film brings together archive film, personal recollections from shostakovich's family, friends and colleagues,and key extracts from the symphonies, performed by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, conducted by Valery Gergiev.BERTUS.2006.
The power of art to defy and even transcend politics and oppression is the theme of Shostakovich Against Stalin: The War Symphonies, director Larry Weinstein's documentary about Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich and the six symphonies he composed while his homeland suffered under the brutal dictatorship of Josef Stalin. Born in 1906, Shostakovich gained considerable prominence after the unveiling of his first symphony in 1926, by which time Lenin was dead, the USSR had been founded, and Stalin had assumed power as General Secretary of the Communist Party. Thereafter, the composer was subject to the whims of the dictator. An early opera, "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk" (a depiction of "the justified murder of a tryant", led to his being banned; his Symphony No. 7, the "Leningrad Symphony," composed as Hitler invaded Russia in 1941, was virtually appropriated by Stalin as great symbol of resistance (which it was--although Shostakovich intended it as a rebuke to all forms of socialism, including Stalin's), but the tables were turned again with Symphony No. 8, which was regarded as "counter-revolutionary." Through it all, the composer's work (generous extracts of which can be heard among the DVD bonus features) revealed how he really felt about life under Stalin, whose regime was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of Russians. Much of Symphonies No. 4-8 consists of music that's harsh and aggressive, nervous and tragic; even No. 9, written to commemorate the Allied triumph in World War II and seemingly a light, joyous ode to victory, was in fact filled with musical sarcasm, a favorite mode of expression for Shostakovich. A combination of photos, vintage file footage (some of it featuring the composer himself), newer interviews with family, friends, and musicologists, and more, Shostakovich Against Stalin is a moving tribute to a great artist's will. --Sam Graham
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