Mixing music and politics with Shostakovich

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One of the most political of composers, who regularly contrived to persuade Russia’s Communist authorities he was a supporter while actually undermining the party line through his music, is featured in tonight’s Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra concert at Portsmouth Guildhall (7.30pm).

Shostakovich’s Symphony No 11, premiered in 1957 and subtitled The Year 1905, purports to depict an historical ‘Bloody Sunday’ when the Tsarist authorities gunned down unarmed protesters in pre-revolutionary St Petersburg. But it has since been re-assessed as a more immediate commentary on the Communist repression of the 1956 Hungarian uprising.

In Portsmouth the BSO will be conducted by American James Gaffigan, who has been making waves on both sides of the Atlantic and has previously made a big impression with the BSO in music by Tchaikovsky and Sibelius. The programme also includes Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, also reflecting a stand taken against historical oppression, and Prokofiev’s first piano concerto with its daring harmonies. Soloist will be Ukrainian-born Alexander Gavrylyuk.

Tickets cost £29.50 to £14.75 from 0844 453 9028, bsolive.com or the Guildhall.