Written just after the death of Stalin, the composer stated that this symphony is about the Stalinist era, but others disagree.

SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 10; AN-LUN HUANG:: Sebei Dance No. 2 “Lantern Festival”; RACHMANINOFF: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini; CHOPIN: Etude Op. 27/7 – Texas Music Festival Orch./ Mei-Ann Chen; (Extras:) Moores School Sym. Orch./Franz Anton Krager/ Kenneth Broburg, p. – HDTT multichannel Pure Audio Blu-ray (5.0 or 2.0) 24/96 (Rec. 2013 & 2014) ****:

Although Shostakovich said his Tenth Symphony clearly is about the Stalinst era in the Soviet Union, critics disagree and say it was an example of Shostakovich’s synthesis of allusions to the symphonic tradition on the one hand, and encoded references to his own particular time and place on the other. It was premiered under Mravinsky in December of 1953.

The first movement is in a rough sonata form. The short scherzo movement is the second, full of syncopated rhythms and furious sixteenth note passages. The third movement is a moderate dance-like suite which the composer called a nocturne. It uses two musical codes: the DSCH which represents the composer, and the Elmira Theme – representing a student of Shostakovich’s with whom he fell in love.

The final movement is a naively happy tune in the style of Mahler, which morphs into a doom-laden theme recalled the scherzo movement. Though fast, it is finally defeated by the DSCH theme – repeated thru the frantic conclusion. The Rachmaninoff Rhapsody is a lovely piece – both in performance and sonics.

This is a really excellent interpretation by the young Texan musicians, and the 5.1 surround sonics – though not quite up to SACD’s high standards – are also excellent. I guess the idea of the audio-only Blu-rays is that there are more Blu-ray decks out there than SACD decks, but the format has not exactly caught on. There are also many competing recordings, by such as the NY Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, the BSO and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

—John Sunier