Both of these famous works follow a time of crisis for the composer. Tchaikovsky’s marriage lay in tatters and Shostakovich’s career was on a knife-edge. As such, they are a testimony to the composers’ resilience and ability to write with incredible power and conviction. Tchaikovsky’s concerto has become one of the most popular in the repertoire, and Shostakovich emerged triumphant with his fifth symphony, managing to combine a stunning directness with music of codes and ambiguity. Is his finale a celebration or not? The debate continues.
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